There’s Still Power in the Blood

Remember when we used to sing about how awesome it is?

by Ted Olsen

If your church tends to use contemporary worship songs and leave hymns aside, on Good Friday you’ll probably sing plenty about the Cross, the death of Christ, salvation, grace, and related topics. But you’re unlikely to sing about the blood of Christ. That’s too bad, because as the old hymn goes, there is not only power in the blood, but also a rich well of meaning that the biblical writers were not even aware of.There's Still Power in the Blood

This isn’t an editorial about worship wars. This isn’t about Wesley versus Wickham. In fact, if you look at the modern worship being produced, there’s a fair bit of sanguinary speech. Chris Tomlin’s latest album is titled Love Ran Red. On David Crowder’s most recent album he sings, “Whatever you’ve done can’t overcome the power of the blood.” And Matt Redman goes for the jugular:

“Your blood speaks a better word
than all the empty claims
I’ve heard upon the earth.
Speaks righteousness for me.”

The song—an update of Robert Lowry’s Reconstruction-era hymn “Nothing but the Blood”—gained popularity when it was released a decade ago. But it’s no longer sung in many churches. Only 8 of the top 100 songs licensed by Christian Copyright Licensing International (which covers almost all modern worship sung in churches) even mention Jesus’ blood. And none of the top 100 focuses on it.

-That’s remarkable, given how blood-drenched our sung faith has been in ages past.

And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

His blood can make the foulest clean, his blood availed for me.

I have a funny reaction to these hymns: I love them. They are among the most common songs that get stuck in my head—especially William Cowper’s “There Is a Fountain” (specifically Willie Nelson’s 1976 honky-tonk cover). What’s ironic is that like about 4 percent of the US population, I am mildly hemophobic. Seeing blood or hearing people describe injuries makes my heart rate and blood pressure drop. But somehow I can sing, “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains,” and not pass out…

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