Christianity,  Music

Owl City does “In Christ Alone”

102510_1758_OwlCitydoes1.pngI just saw that Owl City has recorded a new version of “In Christ Alone.” You can download it here or listen below. (HT: Brad Jones)


UPDATE: Tim Challies pointed out something in the comments below that I didn’t notice when I posted this earlier today. This version leaves out the verse that talks about the cross. I have no idea why the second verse is omitted. Perhaps he left it out because all four verses push the song past the three and half minute time limit for pop songs. Whatever the reason, it’s too bad he omitted it. Nevertheless, I’m grateful that he recorded the song. I think it’s really good.

Printed below are all four verses. The omitted verse is the one that is italicized and bold.


In Christ alone, my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all-in-all
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
the wrath of God was satisfied
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand


  • Nathan

    I thought that was going to be this song:

    Everything that Christ is and everything that He did isn’t going to fit in some pop song.

    Maybe that verse was left out because of hatred for or shame of the cross. Or maybe there were time constraints and the singer would rather have Christ rising from the dead than leave Him on the cross.

    I dunno.

    Whatever the reason, IMO it’s a bad idea to trust some dude to have perfect theology and motives just because he can sing real nice (or write something interesting on a blog).

    Listener/reader/follower/etc. beware!

    • MLM

      Wow, many of you people are so disgusting and hurtful in your posts! “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

      This, more than most worship songs, is such a beautiful love song between the singer and Jesus. Whether there is a verse missing, or whether Owl City is not technically “Christian” should not matter at all. My hat goes off to Adam Young for doing this piece.

      Many other Owl City songs have pretty overtly Christian lyrics as well (ie Galaxies “Dear God you’re the only North Star I would follow this far…he is the saving grace of the galaxies”, Meteor Shower “I am not my own, for I have been made new”, etc.). This young man does more in furthering the gospel through his “secular” music than most of you posting hateful and disapproving drivel on this website. Shame on all of you!

      I can only hope that Adam Young decides to publish more music like this, and REALLY hope that hurtful comments like many I have read on this stupid blog don’t dissuade him from doing so!

  • Kenneth Ross

    Don’t know why he dropped that verse; could be track length constraints or theological issues. It certainly reminded me of how the Co-operative Baptist Fellowship changed that verse while singing ‘In Christ alone’ at their General Assembly in 2008.

    Specifically they changed the line, “The wrath of God was satisfied,” referring to Christ’s death on the cross, to “The price of sin was satisfied.”
    (Source: Florida Baptist Witness)

  • Kenneth Ross

    Denny, please add to my earlier comment:

    When we begin to creat God in our image, and modify the Gospel to reflect how we think God should be, then the things we like the least we jettison first. Hence the removal of references to the wrath of God. That’s certainly what is happening in many neo-evangelical (read liberal) contexts.

  • Jerod

    Leaving out the second verse gives the third and fourth verses no meaning. This is a horribly bad idea. There is no “And as He stands in victory” without “who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless Babe.” There is no “No guilt in life, no fear in death” without “‘Til on that cross as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied”
    I definitely don’t want this song now.

  • Sam Soffes

    I think it’s pretty awesome he did this song. It’s great he’s using his huge platform to share the gospel. The fact that you only complain about him not doing a certain part is pretty sad in my opinion.

  • MRS

    Owl City is subject to the criticism that much CCM has recieved over the years – it is derivative of other artists. Owl City, while catchy, is a borderline ripoff the Postal Service, a project by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. The popularity of Owl City among Christians again exposes evangelicals as late to the party, much the same way the popularity of DC Talk’s “Jesus Freak” exposed that we missed out on Nirvana the first time around…

  • paul

    What MRS said.

    Words are pretty. And meaningful.

    And the music made me want to open an etsy shop on the web and knick-knacks to old cat ladies.

    Whatever. I’ve made this rant before. Conservative Christians that don’t believe in a decent arts education keep buying crappy music, so there’s an industry more than happy to give it to them. And now, they’ve gotten to the point where bands don’t even have to have cool names anymore. What in the world is an owl city?

  • MRS

    Yeah, it’s still not ok. My point was to Christians who have all of a sudden discovered the band…that sound was original in 2003 when the Postal Service did it, and now OC is a blatant rip off, Christian or not.

    • Rob Gibson

      Who cares if the sound is a rip off? 90 percent of Bands today (indie, underground, christian or mainstream) are ripping someone off. thats why we use the words “they sound like” when we describe them to someone else. if your requirement for liking music is that it be completely original and not rip anyone else’s sound off, you must not listen to music then. Because as Solomon said “There is nothing new under the sun”. All music is derivative of someone else’s sound.

  • Druma13

    Wow, who in the world cares that he skipped a verse? The point is that he is using his platform to spread the message of the gospel. I think it’s extremely sad that “christians” find the need to constantly criticize fellow christians. I applaud Owl City for this version and for his deep honesty about his faith. Keep it up Adam!

  • paul

    “I think it’s extremely sad that “christians” find the need to constantly criticize fellow christians.”

    I find it extremely distasteful that if I want to hear well played, well crafted, interesting modern music, that I have to listen to secular groups because Christian musicians slack on learning how to play and listening to quality influences.

    • Rob Gibson

      That is not true at all. And you know it. There are plenty of talented Christian Musicians in the industry. most of them are outside the CCM cookie factory, but they are there. To use the generalization that Christian musicians slack on learning is a cruel way of criticizing them, and is only useful to start an argument, which openly violates scriptural precepts of how we are to use our speech. And to these so called “Quality influences” most of them, in the secular world are anything but. They may be great musicians but the messages of sin and corruption and unholiness along with lifestyles that affirm these things are not the kind of influences that a christian should be trying to conform to. We are told to Imitate Christ, not secular “Quality influences”. be careful that by your comments you are not causing others to stumble and fall into the traps of the world.

  • Charlton Connett

    I don’t have much to say about this song. I like the original but Owl City isn’t really my cup of tea. But I will say this about Christian music: if you want to hear good theology and some interesting music, give a listen to Christian hip-hop like Flame, Lecrae, Cross Movement, etc. Yeah, it’s hip-hop and thus sounds similar to other hip-hop, and not every song or artist deserves praise, but I’ve found it to be more enjoyable than most Christian pop stuff these days. I think on Cross Movement’s “History” there is even a song about the fact that Christians have quit producing quality art that really impacts culture, not only in music but in painting, (Thomas Kinkade is “the painter of light”? Really?) sculpture, architecture, and literature.

    That said, I still love hymns, particularly the old ones, but also several of the new ones. I really enjoy the version of this done by “Sovereign Grace.” While I enjoy originality, there is something to be said for being faithful to the sounds of a genre. I too lament the fact that Christian music is lagging behind secular music, but I really think it has gotten better in my life time. I’m still young (under 30) and I can definitely hear the improvement from what I was listening to as a preteen to what is being produced now.

  • Steve

    Who knows why the second verse was left out, maybe it was accidental. That doesn’t negate the power of the message that Christ alone is our Redeemer. And if you LISTEN to the song, you’ll hear that testimony of the Lord in the singer’s voice. Let’s not “strain at gnats” (Matt. 23:24). Reminds me of the silliness that ensues when folks criticize other churches (like Mormons), because they’re not “Christian”. In that situation, who’s less Christ-like? And what are non-believers left to think of Christians as a group when there’s internal strife among the believers?

    Let’s rejoice in what’s light and good. There’s already enough contention in this dark world – no need for us to add to it!

  • bill smith

    when you look at the nitpicky way “we” as the body rip each other apart, for instance when one of us puts a hymn out for free on the internet, we quibble over theology and gripe about what’s not there…all the while offering NOTHING of value. I think this is a nice offering by what seems like a really genuine guy who seems to have responded in a beautiful way to his Savior.
    I hope his fans that don’t follow Christ don’t see the way “we” have acted around this gift that Adam has offered up. Take it for what it is, and stop trying to make it what it’s not.
    And those of you barking the loudest about this issue and trying to tag political labels to a spiritual issue, for Christ’s sake shut up and be Jesus to a dying world.

  • Chris

    Do we get bent out of shape with the apostle Paul in Acts when he preaches and sometimes omits the cross and emphasizes that Jesus is the risen Lord?

  • Patrick Kim

    @ Denny and Sam – I must disagree with your opinion that an omission is not something to be worked up about. We are called to preach the gospel, and Owl City is not being faithful to this call. They leave out some very important elements of the gospel: (1) man’s relationship to God before Christ which include his sinful rebellion against God and God’s righteous wrath against sinful man and (2) the necessity for Christ’s humble humanity. If an unbeliever listens to this song, will he be able to feel the weight of his sins which would bring him to the cross for Christ’s sufficient sacrifice for his sins? Will he have a sense for his own wretchedness and rebellion which will lead him to peace and joy knowing that through the cross God still loves him regardless? Will the unbeliever understand what it took for God to resolve his holiness and our sinfulness (which is the sacrifice of His own Son)?

    Indeed, it’s a shame that Owl City didn’t include this very crucial part of the song. I’m sorry to say that the theological implications that come with this version has robbed me of any desire to obtain it.

    • Rob Gibson


      you’re gonna get worked up over this? How many times in church do we sing an old hymn, and at the sole discretion of the music leader leave out a verse or two? It happens to My favorite Hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross” All the time. And most recording artists that record a hymn, omit verses or add to it. And if you really want to hear that verse, listen to Adam Young (Owl City) sing the song with his side project “An Epic, No Less” they sing the second verse. but OH NO they omit the fourth! If we are called to preach the gospel, which I agree wholeheartedly that we are, then how does criticizing this version accomplish that? How about using his omission to help you preach, by talking about the verse he left out, as you did in your post? maybe he left it out so you would have something to talk to a unbeliever about instead of letting him do it for you?

  • Katara

    Meh, I thought it was a pretty boring “cover.” I’ll take An Epic, No Less’s version any day. Which, has the first two verses, a bridge they added and then the third verse.

    (I am not connected with them in any way, I just found the band on Noise Trade and really, really appreciate what they do).

    • Rob Gibson

      Nice katara. but it is the same guy. Owl City is just one guy, Adam young, and he is the lead singer of An Epic No Less.

  • Steve

    Just one thought: I’m old enough to remember when the “watchers” in the church criticized musicals such as Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar because they stopped at the cross and minimized the resurrection.

    The waves of culture ebb and flow, but the gospel remains the same. We who know it well can tell it well.

  • La Fille Du Dieu

    Why do we bicker like this? Should we not just be happy that he is strong enough in his faith to sing this song? He is criticized by both believers and non-believers for his music, so why can’t we just SHUT UP and be happy? Yes, the cross is very important, but even more so is the resurection! Without his coming back to life, this would be just like any other religion in the world. He risked a lot doing this, and he will most likely lose some of his fans because of this song, so shouldn’t that say something about his character and what really is important to him? (HINT: GOD!!!!!) Just something to think about.

  • La Fille Du Dieu

    Yes, I do think that “just” these three verses would be enough for non-believers to look at their lives, or at least look more into it. Isn’t that the point?

  • jill

    Patrick Kim, your use of big words is overwhelming & it makes me think you just like to hear yourself talk. So then, you’re saying every Christian song should have the entire gospel presented every time? What about those of us who believe in the power of the cross & are living for Jesus? Are there no songs that challenge us in our walk or keep us on track?

    If a non-believer is truly moved by this song, the lack of one verse is not going to stop God from meeting that person right where he/she is. When you say “the song should have all its verses,” you’re essentially putting God in a finite & human box, one in which he does not belong & cannot fit.

  • Kortnee

    I love music. I listen to all types. Country, alternative, “old” rock and roll, and Christian.
    I like Owl City’s music and was more than happy about their cover. A band that is popular, and ‘trendy’ singing a song and sharing the Word?! How is that a bad thing? The average non-believer is going to hear the song and want to know more or become interested in why a pop singer released a Christian song, and in the end, learn more about Christ, without the thought of ‘something here is missing’ ever being a hindrance of them hearing the gospel. It’s a way to reach people. And I think this artist is doing a great job at reaching a group of people who probably have never heard of Christ.
    Now on the subject of Owl City ‘ripping off’ Postal Service. Does that mean Freelance Whales is ripping off Owl City, and the next synth band is ripping off Freelance Whales? And what about Muse and Incubus and Hellogoodbye and the future popular band Sugarglyder (look them up)? Do they not play a role in that type of music?
    I’m sorry, I just think that they all bring something new to the table and can all happily coexist without starting a band war. (I’m sure non of those were the first bands of that type on the first place)
    They’re all making beautiful music and some choose to glorify God with their talents and use their music as a tool to reach out and witness, others don’t. So we shouldn’t get upset with them for trying. Agree or disagree, I hope I brought some new points to the table.

  • Martie Chotiner

    I love the Lord and I love this song and I am so happy to see Owl City cover it! Just listen to it and don’t rip it apart with deep seeded anger or ridicule. Love it for what it is and try and see your cup half full! Where does all of the negativity come from? Smile! You’ll feel better and people might like being around you a little more 🙂

  • HB

    The arguments are ridiculous. Adam Young is not ripping anyone off, and he’s not trying to make a statement by leaving out a verse. Take it for what it is: his own interpretation of an old hymn. Because it moves him. And, if you read the comments on the actual Owl City blog, there are no silly debates and judgments. There are people who have been moved.

  • Joe

    Maybe its a masonic thing, Mason’s believe in “a Chirst” but never mention the name “Jesus.” They try to become “christ-like” which is a nice way of saying they are more enlightened than the rest of us.

  • Joe

    Adam said on the Owl City blog that he spent more time crying from this song than actually playing it on his piano… maybe that is why he had trouble recording the second section, as it is the most emotional section of the song.

  • Aaron

    While I will not agree with everything that CCM does, I think there is a point that can be considered in relation to the omission of text in this recording: many, many conservative Christian churches (i.e. Independent Fundamental Baptist) leave out verses in songs during congregational singing; why is this? I personally think that if you’re going to sing a song in church, then sing the whole song, because the writer intended for the whole thing to be sung/read/meditated over as a whole.

    That being said, I think it is a good thing that Adam Young recorded this song. I can’t remember the exact words from the interview, but it was along the lines that he recorded this song because he was reveling in Christ’s comfort (I think; don’t take me to town on that!)

    I don’t think he recorded this song as a means to witness, although I think that should, in one sense, be a goal for recording music.

    Anyway, if I want an unbeliever to feel the weight of their sin, I will take them to scripture. This song is based of scripture, yes, but it isn’t scripture; ‘In Christ Alone’ is a song of worship to God.

    There in the ground His body lay
    “Light of the world by darkness slain
    Then bursting forth in glorious day
    Up from the grave He rose again!
    And as He stands in victory
    Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
    For I am His and He is mine
    Bought with the precious blood of Christ” is enough to make an unbeliever curious I would imagine. Besides, their understanding is darkened, I’m not sure if they would be able to understand “In Christ alone, who took on flesh
    fullness of God in helpless Babe
    This gift of love and righteousness
    scorned by the ones He came to save
    ‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
    the wrath of God was satisfied
    For ev’ry sin on Him was laid
    here in the death of Christ I live” as much as any other part of the song.

    Just my two cents.

  • Jacob

    I can’t believe that anyone could critisize him for leaving out the 2nd verse. It’s probably just the recording time was limited, besides the first part of verse 3 “There in the ground, his body lay, light of the world by darkness slain” Sums up breifly what verse 2 was about. Frankly complaining in a hostile way about a missing verse is one of the things that give Christians a bad name. Owl City is brilliant, the music is great, he has a fantastic voice and he’s a believer. I find the song very moving, and it almost made me cry, so please, spare me the thoughtless comments.

  • JBStone

    I think it must be remembered, too, that Adam Young did not record this for mass circulation or for selling purposes. This was an act of worship and reflection upon the gospel at work in his life… and he chose to let people into an intimate space of his life and see it. Also (as he has mentioned earlier in his blogging) he’s attends John Piper’s church and I have a hard time believing that as a Christian, having Dr. Piper as your pastor, you wouldn’t have a good grasp on the gospel… not impossible, but improbable. Again, we don’t know why that verse is omitted, but remember, this is a special invited glimpse into a person’s wrestling with the glory of the gospel and the joy of experiencing Jesus… and I am thankful that he did so, so others might be thoughtful to look into their own lives as well.

  • JBStone

    …that we, too, might be transparent enough to let people see the sinners we are and the transformative power of the gospel in repentance and lives of worship.

  • zack

    There was mention previously of how Christian music does not reach the world at large. While I admit the music on traditional Christian radio is often boring and lacking, the artists I frequently listen to are popular among Christians and non-Christians alike. For example, bands like Switchfoot and Relient K can be heard on a Christian or secular station. Then bands like Underoath are definitely creating music that is comparable to today’s popular sounds. My point is if you search hard enough, you can find a Christian creating music in any genre you like and doing it well.

  • A.

    I wonder if there would be so much hype about the “omission of the cross” if that verse were not included in the original song. What if the original song went from the first verse to the third? Would it have lost its “power”? Don’t use a song as the message of the Gospel. Pick up your Bible!! Its all about the Cross!! Personally, the third verse is my favorite! Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me!

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