As you’re probably aware, 2017 marks the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of a church building in Wittenberg, Germany. While not seeking to separate from the Roman Catholic church, he called for substantive and specific changes in her practices and theology.
Luther was joined by many other Reformers whose teachings were eventually summarized in what we call the Five Solas, “sola” being a Latin word meaning “alone” or “only.”
Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone
Solus Christus: Christ alone
Sola Fide: faith alone
Sola Gratia: grace alone
Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone
These phrases carry such weight because they keep us from our sinful tendency to base our justification before God on something other than what God has done for us in Christ and revealed to us in his Word.
The Five Solas
Our final authority is Scripture alone, not amended or added to by tradition, opinion, or church councils.
The basis of our forgiveness before God is Christ alone, not saints, Mary, angels, or any other being. In his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross Jesus completely bore God’s righteous wrath against us. His payment was full, final, and effective.
Our justification before God is by faith alone. God declares us righteous in his eyes not because he sees righteousness in us but because we fully rest and trust in the work of Christ on the cross to pay for our sins and because we receive his perfect righteousness as a gift.
We are justified by grace alone, through God’s kind, gracious, and free initiative. He gives us what we don’t deserve and could never earn: forgiveness, transformation into Christ’s image, and adoption into his family.
All of this is accomplished for God’s glory alone. For eternity, praises will redound to the God whose wisdom, power, and love ordained that he would have a people from every tribe, language, and nation to share in his Triune joy forever.
A New Song
While we already have many songs and hymns that help us remember and celebrate these truths, it seems appropriate to mark this 500 year anniversary with new songs. David Ward wrote one a couple years ago called Glory Be to God Alone, and I’m sure there are probably others.
Which brings me to this post. Last year Chris Anderson, a pastor and hymn writer I had met once at Together for the Gospel, emailed me to ask if I wanted to work on a Reformation Hymn with him. Sounded like a great idea.
So for about 8 months we emailed back and forth, worked on a Google doc, and finally came up with a song. It’s intended to be a concise, musical summary of Reformation truths that we stand on, live by, and treasure. Here are the words:
We will trust God’s Word alone, where His perfect will is known;
Our traditions shift like sand while His Truth forever stands.
We will live by faith alone, clothed in merit not our own;
All we claim is Jesus Christ and His finished sacrifice.
Glory be, glory be to God alone
Through the church He redeemed and made His own.
He has freed us, He will keep us till we’re safely home
Glory be, glory be to God alone!
We are saved by grace alone—undeserved, yet freely shown;
No accomplishment on earth can achieve the second birth.
We will stand on Christ alone, the unyielding Cornerstone;
Nations rage and devils roar, still he reigns forevermore!
Here’s a quick demo I recorded with Zach Taylor, a member of my church and recent Southern Seminary graduate.
Of course this song can be sung any time, not just during the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. I pray it’s an encouragement to you as you consider what a great salvation God has given us through his Son!
You can download the sheet music and MP3 below:
Reformation Hymn – MP3
Reformation Hymn – Lead Sheet – C
Reformation Hymn – Lead Sheet – D
Reformation Hymn – SATB – C
Reformation Hymn – SATB – D
If you’re interested, you can also check out Reformation Song, which I wrote with Tim Chester.
What a God inspired and uplifting song
I’m a pastor in Australia. Thank you so much to you and Chris Anderson for the song – I love it, and am planning to use it later this year in the church where I serve.
But I also wanted to pass on a little request / musical gripe / feedback. I know you said the recording you did with Zach Taylor is only a quick demo, but in several places in both verses and chorus, the tune sung on that recording doesn’t agree with the sheet music. (I notice the same recording is on the ChurchWorksMedia website as well.)
I would love it if you were able to fix that (soon!) – either re-record in line with the sheet music, or change the sheet music. It’s just that in the modern world, if the melody isn’t nailed down from the start, there will forever be people and churches singing it slightly differently from each other, and nobody really knows which tune is “right”.
Anyway, thank you again for sharing this!
Stephen, Thanks so much! My fault. The recording is right. New lead/hynm sheets have been uploaded here, and I’ll pass them on to Chris. Thanks for your encouraging words.
Thank you for such a prompt reply! And now … can I point out the inconsistencies that are still there in the chorus?? The “-ry” of the second “glo-ry” in lines 1 & 2, the “we’re” in line 3, and the “-ry”s for both “glo-rys” in the final line are all third jumps rather than passing notes (at least, that’s how they’re sung).
That’s stylized singing. The chart is right. Thanks for being nit-picky!
Oh … really? As in, he slides up to the E (recording pitch) from the D# to anticipate the following E? I simply hear it as C#-E-E – hence my concern, since I’m guessing many will hear it the same way and learn it from the recording. Is a stylized recording really the best way to get it out there as a teaching tool?
I know I’m way more nit-picky than 99% of people, so apologies if I’m just getting annoying. But I really would love the saints all to be singing the same thing on this.
And one final question, then I’ll leave it: In the last line of the chorus, the tune for first “Glory-be” is different than in the first two lines (passing note rather than jump). Is that intentional?
After that, I’ll stop bugging you, and teach it from the chart :-)
Grace and peace,
No problem, Stephen! People learn songs different ways, some by ear, some by note. We intended it to be the third jump in the first two glory be’s, but I’m totally fine with people sliding. And yes, the second to the last “glory be” is a walk up (3-4-5), and not a jump (3-5-5). Thanks for caring!
Now you’ve got me really confused :-( So in bar 26, in the D major chart, should “glo-ry” be B-C# as in the chart, or B-D as in the recording?
Sorry for dragging this out!
Sorry, I wasn’t clear which bar you were talking about. The last “glory be” is B-C#-D. The chart is right.
OK, thanks again. I think people will sing B-D-D because that’s what Zach sings (stylized?). But I’ll teach it as the chart has it.
Thanks again for serving the saints with this song!
Hey, I’m just happy if people sing it!
As usual, this is a wonderful hymn, so very singable for the church—and, more importantly, so very God-glorifying. Thank you for putting these songs in the mouth of the church to help us offer worthy praise.
Hi Bob, I love this – sounds and looks great, and very helpful for our church which is about to start a series on the Five Solas. Is it possible to have a copy of your recording that can be downloaded so we can share this with our musicians and congregation?
Rick, you can download it now.
Bob that’s so helpful. Thanks as ever.
Hi Bob, Next week we are starting the Solas as well, beginning with Scripture. Could you also send me the audio. Dennis Jeremica Email: email@example.com
Redeemed Southbay Church (Torrance California). Loved the Sheppards Conference this week. Thank you for your ministry.
Bob, I really like this new hymn. Thank you for it! We will be teaching it to our worship team soon. I would love one day if you wrote out the piano part you played to this. We have pianists who can play whatever is written, but are not comfortable playing by ear, so it would be a big help to them.
Yes! I am one of those who needs notes and have been asked to accompany vocalists on Sunday. It will not sound nearly as nice if all I’m playing are the hymn chords. Any chance we could have this by the weekend? :)
Diedre, I’m on my way to Germany so I don’t think I’m going to get to it!
Diedre, you can purchase a choral octavo with piano accompaniment here: https://www.churchworksmedia.com/product/reformation-hymn-choral-octavo/
Is it okay to create a lyric video for it for helping our congregation prepare for Sunday? We have found it very helpful for individuals and families.
Great idea, Chris. Go for it.
Thank you! Appreciating your ministry at the Shepherds’ Conference.
Bob, wonderful song! Excellent words! Biblical preaching through song, true worship.
Look forward to seeing you, meeting you at Shepherd’s Conference. *just maybe you’ll lead us in this song!
Thanks, Jason. If you’re there Thursday morning, you just might hear it.
Bob, great meeting you at Shepherds Conference. It was a rich blessing to worship our Lord together. Thanks for serving. And thanks again for the reformation hymn…
**btw, my kids can’t believe I got a picture with “the” Bob Kauflin.
In Him, Jason
Our worship team is starting to write new songs, it is great!
I trust this finds you well in the Lord!
I simply want to submit a note of thanks to you and Chris Anderson for taking the time to write this biblical, important and helpful song, which points us to Christ and His finished work, while accurately elucidating the heart of the reformation in that regard. Also, I find it to be very singable and memorable! So, thank you!
I am serving as the minister of music at First Baptist Church of Weymouth, MA and I fully plan to incorporate this song into our repertoire. I am looking forward to teaching this truth to our precious flock through the singing of this song, and ultimately directing their eyes to Christ and Christ alone. Praise God that it is not about us; it is truly all about Him. Glory be to God alone!
Last, though I am not able to be there in person, I watched and participated in your leading of this song, as well as others, at the 2017 Shepherd’s Conference today via the live stream. Thank you for transparently pointing us to Christ by your gospel-centered teaching and leading us in singing biblical, God-honoring songs. You are an inspiration and encouragement.
For the glory of our sovereign Lord,
Eric, thanks for taking the time to write these encouraging words and for faithfully serving your church!
It’s really a great song Bob! I’m planning to sing it in our church these next Sundays. I just want to ask a brief insight on the phrase “..through the church He redeemed and made His own” in light of the 5 Solas and the history of reformation. I just need a deeper conviction leading the song in all its details. Thank you Bob for your ministry. God bless!
Thanks, Japhet. It’s drawn from Eph. 3:21: “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” and Gal. 4:5: “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” It’s not meant to be directly tied to the five solas, but is filling out the idea of the glory being God’s alone.
Got it right! Thank you so much Bob! God- willing, hope to see you again in the Philippines. God bless.
I may not have enough biblical understand and or historical perspective but could you explain a little more of the “through the church” line…this is not meant to be critical. I just really love every other aspect of this song and want to explain this line as i’m sure some will wonder about it and i don’t want to just leave it un explained. thx!
Thanks for asking, Nick. It’s from Paul’s prayer in Eph. 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Hi Bob, thanks for writing and sharing this song which is very appropriate for those of us seeking to lead the congregation in affirming the 5 solas! I had the same question of clarification on the line “through the church” and reading your explanation above, I wonder if it would be less misleading if the words were changed to “in the church” instead?
Thanks, Magdalene! We wanted to make the point that God alone receives glory through the church He redeemed. “In the church” works, but “through the church” implies that his glory is being displayed to others. Our thought is that no one would write a song that says God is redeeming the world through the church, so while it’s possible to think that’s what it “could” mean, it’s so unbiblical that it’s not worth considering. Hope that’s helpful.
Hi Bob, some young people from our church had the same question – they were confused by that line (and thought at first it was saying that God redeems through the church). My thoughts were either to explain before singing (which you don’t want to rely on), or add “through the church *that* he redeemed” (“through the church that he saved” would maintain scanning, but more radical change), or hope that people will ask if they misunderstand! I know you’re not going to want to tweak words at this stage, but we have had that misunderstanding.
Stephen, thanks for letting me know. I have to admit, I’m having trouble seeing how anyone can think the chorus is saying God redeems through the church, unless they’re not thinking of the words in context. No one believes that, least of all two guys who are writing a song based on the 5 solas! But grammatically, it doesn’t even make sense. The lyrics read: “Glory be, glory be to God alone through the church He redeemed and made His own.” In other words, “May God alone receive glory through the church, [the ones] he redeemed and made his own.” I’m not sure what’s causing the confusion, but it must be something because a number of people have mentioned it!
Yes, I know and agree with all that, Bob – and sympathise!! That interpretation wouldn’t have occurred to me, for precisely the same reasons. I certainly hadn’t anticipated this before we started learning it. But for people who’s grammatical intuition isn’t as good, I can see why that might be the first interpretation that comes into their heads (because of the pause after “through the church”, and because there’s no relative pronoun “that”). My biggest concern is for the people who’ll sing it without any idea of the Solas … at least, not until we’ve finished our October sermon series :-) I guess whether it might be an issue will depend entirely on context. In my context (lots of migrants, lots from Catholic background), I’m thinking a “that” would help. But no easy solution. Sorry the issue has come up!
Thanks, Stephen. I agree. I think I’m finally seeing what they’re seeing. Through the church, he redeemed [missing a direct object] and made his own. Now I get it. One thing I’d suggest is not putting a break between “church” and “he redeemed.” And you might try explaining it the first time! Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
The phrase in question sounds like God redeems and makes His own through the Church (the body of Christ or the local church) in contrast to the blood of Christ. Yes, the Church is to glorify God. Can you be more clear on what you mean by this phrase? Thanks
Mike, thanks for asking. The phrase is drawn from two Scriptures: Eph. 3:21: “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” and Gal. 4:5: “to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Glory be to God alone, through the church He redeemed and made his own. “Redeemed and made his own” modifies “church.” In other words, “May God alone receive glory through the church, [the ones] he redeemed and made his own.” Is that helpful?
Hi Bob. Have enjoyed your music for quite some time through the Glad lads. Regarding the question about “through the church”, I believe it’s the phrasing that leads people to think your saying “through the church we are redeemed”. If people read the lyrics as sentences with punctuation rather than song phrases it states what you say. If people listen to the phrases it can seem like the other. That’s my take. Nice song. Will be introducing it. Thanks for sharing it.
I have to agree with Nick, the phrase “through the Church” seems to imply that it is the Church, the body of Christ that God is using to redeem sinners. We are redeemed through Christ’s blood, His death on the cross. Eph. 3:20,21 is speaking of God’s power that is working in and through those who are redeemed already. Yes, it is true that it is God’s power, grace, that redeems us. Are you saying that God is using us as the Church to give out the message of God’s redeeming grace?
Thanks, Mike. “Glory be to God alone, through the church he redeemed and made his own.” In other words, the glory God receives goes to him through the church he redeemed. When an interpretation of a lyric seems improbable or heretical, there’s probably another way of interpreting it. And it would certainly be heretical to say the God needs the church to redeem sinners! “He redeemed” is a phrase that modifies and refers to “the church.” Is that helpful?
Love this new hymn! We will be teaching it to our student body here at Central Africa Baptist College in Zambia. Hope to use it at our annual Leadership Conference later this year. Thanks to Chris and you for collaborating on this! – Phil Hunt
“No one believes that”
-Sorry to necro and old thread, but I only recently heard this song. I live in Buffalo, NY. Most of our neighbors are Roman Catholic. Every Roman Catholic is taught that salvation is only available through the R.C. Church by way of baptism, holy communion, confirmation, partaking in the sacraments and finally a soul’s time in purgatory. They believe that these sacraments can only be provided by the church and it is the church that they believe in rather than in Christ alone. According to Wikipedia the population of the city of Buffalo is over 57% Roman Catholic. Another study said that 23 percent of all Americans are Roman Catholic, According to the Vatican there are 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, This is hardly “no one”. I am glad that you eventually saw Stephen Shead’s point, but you should have realized that billions of people wrongly believe that God redeems “through the church” . If Catholics did not believe that salvation is only available “through the church” then the five Solas would not be necessary and the Reformation probably would not have occurred. It is unfortunate that the phrase “through the church” creates such confusion in an otherwise beautiful song.
Kenneth, thanks for your comment. In saying “no one believes that” I didn’t mean to imply that unbelievers don’t believe that. I was raised as a Roman Catholic and am familiar with the mindset that sees the church as a means of salvation. But if it’s causing confusion, I’d either add the “that” before “he redeemed,” or not use the song. There are plenty of other songs that aren’t as confusing!
Blessings in Christ to you. Love the new hymn. I’m already in the process of planning for this year’s Reformation Sunday and seeking resources to help celebrate well.
Here is a modern hymn based on the five solas that I wrote a few years ago. As I write from a guitar, this recording is more of a modern song, but at its basic structure, it serves as a hymn format for sure. I even wrote with some “Thees” and “Thous”… not necessarily from intention, but I guess it just felt right when I wrote it.
Anyways, I always wanted to hear what it would sound like as an SATB arrangement and so I had a more experienced musician from our church help me out to write some parts in.
Here is the link to the song “For Thine All-Surpassing Glory” and if you’d ever like to see the hymn style version in SATB I’d be delighted to email you an attachment. Just not sure how to do that on this reply thread. https://ericgraef.bandcamp.com/track/for-thine-all-surpassing-glory
Btw.. I attended the last Worship God conf in the West and I’m looking forward to when you guys will be able to make it back over here to CA!
For Thine All Surpassing Glory
In Thy Word alone is for me
untold riches of Thy love
*Yet the richest treasure from Thee
comes through Jesus’ precious blood
Grace alone saw our condition,
restless sinners; reconciled
not by might nor fond ambition.
Grace has met what Thou required!
True repentance Thou hast granted
Saints, no longer stand condemned
Faith to stand before Thee, righteous
freely given to defend
Object of all highest measure
once forsaken and despised.
Now Thy wrath and Thy good pleasure
Christ alone has satisfied!
For Thine all surpassing glory
all has come to pass in time
and from Thine eternal story
making all things praise Divine! Amen.
*(in the more recent hymn version, I changed this word to “and” instead of “yet” so as not to imply a false dichotomy against the two rich blessings of God’s Word and salvation through the blood of Christ. In fact, as taught by God’s Word and implied by sola Scriptura, it is only through hearing of the Word of God that faith to believe in Christ comes!)
P.S. Zac Hicks also has an awesome and simple modern song based on the solas that you may have already heard before. https://zachicks.bandcamp.com/track/sola
A great new song! We want others to sing it!
This is a fantastic song! Rich in theology – just the kind of lyrics we are looking for in our small local church in Brooklyn, NY – Sonship Ministries. Thank you! I don’t see it on iTunes – is that in the works? I want to attach it to the song sheet that I saved in OnSong, but I’m not able to dowload the song to my iPad. Thanks!
Thanks, Kim. You’ll have to download the MP3 on your computer and then email it to yourself. Hope that helps!
Thanks Bob! We introduced the song at our service today and it was FANTASTIC!! The congregation’s response was beyond my expectation. I had to create my own chord chart in OnSong because I needed to transpose it to E (in case anyone wants it…) – Thank you so much!! I had the blessing of attending the 500th Reformation Conference with Ligonier Ministries in Florida and I am in awe of what God did there. But they didn’t have your hymn…. :)
So glad it served you and your church, Kim! Thanks for letting me know!
Thanks guy’s, great song.
I’m head of music at my church in the UK and we sung this yesterday. My pastor was just interested to know the reasoning behind the line ‘Through the church He redeemed and made His own.’? To his mind something like ‘Through the CROSS He redeemed and made His own.’ would have been better.
Interested to know your thoughts.
Thank you again :-)
Thanks, Josh! Glad the song served you. God is glorifying himself through the church. It’s a reference to Eph. 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21, ESV) and Eph. 3:10: “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” “Through” refers to the means by which God is being glorified, not the basis or essence of it. Is that helpful?
Is this in Spanish?
Not that I”m aware of. I saw a Portuguese version on Facebook, I think, but can’t find it. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!
where can I get a full copy of sheet music for this hymn. It’s amazing
Thanks, Jacob. The lead sheet and SATB chart are available at the end of the post.
What about the piano part in the mp3? Is there music for that?
Jacob, we don’t have that music. Sorry!
Please, Send the playback…thanks
David, I’m not sure what you mean. What is “send the playback?”
Thank you for allowing us to access this music. We will sing it on Reformation Sunday but it will become an important part of our music library to be used often.
My wife will be directing the first Children’s Choir at our newly formed church in Nashville. Their first performance is scheduled for Reformation Sunday … what a blessing to find this song … so simple and yet so deep in the spiritual truths revealed in the Reformation. I know it will be a great celebration with our children leading us in the Biblical truth of the Reformation. Thank you.
I was wanting to do this song at our church, and when I realized there were five Sundays in October I decided to devote the whole month to the five solas. We’ll be starting each service with Reformation Hymn, then focusing on one of the solas with the rest of the songs that day; so, Scripture on the first Sunday, faith on the second, grace on the third, Christ on the fourth, and soli deo gloria on the last Sunday in October, ending with A Mighty Fortress. Our pastor is going to make inserts for the bulletin that explain the “sola for the week”. I’m excited and really looking forward it!
So glad the song is serving you, Lindele!
Is there an audio track without vocals recorded to sing along with?
Jason, no there’s not. Sorry about that!
I would also love an accompaniment track. No chance of that coming along??
Sorry, not at this point!
Planning to play this for the first time in Seoul, South Korea this week. Thank you for making this available.
We plan on using this for our service on Oct 29. Do we need special permission to project the words? (CCLI #)
Gregg, the CCLI# is 7085667. Thanks for asking!
Wonderful. Thank you. We are using this song as part of our Reformation Celebration on Oct 29. We are teaching it to the choir, who will teach it to the congregation on that day. Thanks for serving the Body in this way.
The Chorus of this song contradicts the rest of the lyrics & contradicts the whole idea of “On Christ Alone”. God did NOT redeem and ‘make His own’ “through the church”…..NO, a million times, NO! He redeemed and made His own through His Son, the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The Chorus should say “Through His Son” NOT ‘through the church’…… It is biblically incorrect.
CJ, thanks for your comment. You’re misreading the lyrics, which others have done as well, so you’re not alone! The chorus is stating that “Through the church, God alone is to receive glory.” You’re right to say God isn’t redeeming through the church. He is redeeming through his Son, which is what the rest of the song says. It might be clearer if it read like this, “Glory be to God alone through the church (that) he redeemed and made his own.” Feel free to add the word “that” if you think people will misunderstand it. Thanks!
A song for the Reformation ! That’s incredible and Church is looking for more such works
Greetings from India
Planning on using this at Murray Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) on Sunday, October 29. Members of the worship committee looked for a song specifically related to the solas to support our adult Bible study and the pastor’s sermon series on the five solas. We were moved by this new hymn.
Beautiful song! Happy remembrance 500 years anniversary of the Reformation from the Philippines!
Thanks so much, Betsy! Actually, since we own the copyright along with ChurchWorks Media you can feel free to send us a recording! So glad the song served you!
LOVE this song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My school Choir just learnt this and are very grateful for another beautiful reformation song to sing!
Joe, you should check out this Reformation song as well: https://worshipmatters.com/2017/09/29/another-new-reformation-song-5-solas-soli-deo-gloria/
Our pastor is going to make inserts for the bulletin that explain the “sola for the week”. I’m excited and really looking forward it!
I love this song! I notice the lead sheets are in C and D, but the choral arrangement is not. Any chance there is piano accompaniment available that fits the scoring/keying on the lead sheets? I purchased the choral arrangement and love it, but I would be interested in an arrangement for a soloist. Thanks—this is a great piece! (And I totally get the lyrics—they are beautiful!)
Thanks, Joe! We only have an SATB in C and D. Email me and I can send those to you.
Love this reformation songs and hymns! brother is there any “official” spanish translation for it that we can use?
I have found this spanish version on youtube but i dont know if this is the official one
I would go with the one on YouTube!
This is great! May God have His way. With love, from the family at DCM in Kitwe.
Blessed! Praise God for contemporary hymn writers and composers! Thank you for this free access.
Is possible that you could make this song available on Spotify? i would like to add it to our church’s playlist of Sunday songs. Thank you!
Thanks for asking, Scott. We’ll see what we can do!