Not Singing the Third Verse


There are two major schools of song-leading in fundy churches. The first is prone to singing every…single…verse…with all of the unbridled energy of a man building his own gallows. When these folks sing “when we’ve been there 10,000 years” they’re not kidding.

The other method of singing hymns is to religiously omit the third verse to every song. If the song contains five verses, the fourth verse may likely meet the same ignominious fate. One can only imagine that the middle verses to every hymn have been infected by liberal agents with subliminal suggestions that might result in clapping, swaying, or other mortal sins of the flesh.

Modern hymn writers, note this well. My advice is just to omit writing a third verse altogether and replace it instead with single line that says “All together now on the last.” It’s what is going to happen anyway.

29 thoughts on “Not Singing the Third Verse”

  1. Awesome. But you forgot the Mess With the Lyrics school, which, in the case of “Amazing Grace,” will gratuitously substitute “trillion” for “thousand.” And don’t get me started on Majesty Hymns, the Frank Garlock-edited hymnal that screws with the lyrics to virtually every hymn in the repertoire.

  2. Don’t get me started on Frank Garlock. Come to think of it, he probably deserves a post of his own.

  3. From personal experience, I can say for a fact that Fundies definitely like Frank Garlock (I never heard of his edited hymnal, however). A post on him would certainly be appropriate.

  4. I’ve found since leaving fundamentalism that the 3rd verse (well, of those hymns that I can still sing as a non-fundy) often has some of the best theology in it. I also have a deep love and appreciation for singing hymns that I never had as a fundamentalist. And yes, Majesty Hymns, Garlock, and Hamilton definitely deserve posts of their own!

  5. I was always sort of offended when they would say, “All together now on the last.” I thought we were all together, but apparently our timing is so bad we’re just going to skip the middle of the song and get it over with.

  6. “If you’ve ever roller-skated to Patch the Pirate. . .you might have been a Fundamentalist.” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Ron,
    That’s horrible! But that’s funny too in a sad sort of way. Too bad that something so prevalent (skipping verse three) leads to a way to describe rejection!

  8. That’s why on favorites night I always request songs that don’t make sense if you skip any of the verses. ๐Ÿ˜€

    My favorte hymns to do this with are:
    A Might Fortress is Our God

  9. Jordan, you obviously went to BJU (of course, I already knew that ๐Ÿ™‚ ), since they only do that thousand/trillion thing there. Apparently, Jr/Sr used to do that substitution, and they do it today out of worship….err…..remembrance of him.

    1. I don’t remember them ever doing that when I was there (the last five years). But I do remember not singing the third verse a lot!

  10. I make every one around me in church laugh as we sing because our song leader ALWAYS says before we get to the third stanza, “sing with me on the last!!” so I say it with him aloud like it’s apart of the song. I get it in unison with him every time!

  11. My father was and my father-in-law is a “music pastor” which is a strange sort of title when you think about it (if the Youth pastor ministers to the youth, to whom does the music pastor minister?).

    Each of us, as children, distinctly remembers an occasion when we asked our fathers and they used this as an opportunity to tell the congregation: “Tonight, we’re going to sing the third verse because my son/daughter asked me…”

    I believe this has happened to every music pastor who has kids.

  12. OK, you referenced a sore spot — though it’s something that seems to go with fundies unfortunately.

    John Newton did not write the “when weรƒยขรขโ€šยฌรขโ€žยขve been there 10,000 years” verse of “Amazing Grace”. It was tacked on about 50 years later. And it fits the rest of the hymn like OJ Simpson’s glove, turning several very God-centered verses on their ear to end on a cheesy, fairly man-centered final verse. Thank goodness Chris Tomlin had the sense to stop when he did.

  13. True, the final verse is a later addendum, but my point is that you should sing a song the way it’s written. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is a good secular case in point.

  14. Yes, please, please do a post on the Majesty Hymnal. Note how many Hamilton songs there are vs. Charles Wesley. It really is pathetic.

  15. Jordan, that wasn’t trying to refute you. And I agree that a song should be sung the way it was written (and not the way it was printed), which means that the “10,000 years” verse should be omitted. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. It drives me crazy when congregations don’t sing all the verses. A well-written hymn has a logical structure to it, and it you skip some of the verses, the logic is shot to pieces.
    This is especially true of Charles Wesley’s hymns, by the way– every one of them is a tightly-reasoned theological statement.

    The Star-Spangled Banner (though not a hymn) is an excellent example of the problem. If you sing only the first verse, as is usually done, the words don’t make any sense at all. You need all the verses to understand what Francis Scott Key was writing about.

  17. I have a problem with skipping verses of a song also. Takes away from the logical progression of the sound and omits great doctrinal and theological truth. It’s almost (though not quite) like omitting words in a Bible verse.

    I recommend anyone writing modern hymns to write hymns knowing that the 3rd verse will be omitted. Put what you what sung in the 1st, 2nd, and last verses. The 3rd verses should be written something like this…

    “yada, yada, yada, yada…”

  18. Sometimes the best verse is the third verse! So this rankles with me as well. “It Is Well with My Soul” is such an example. The third verse is the best! And my favorite song “It’s Just Like His Great Love” all of the verses are great but my favorites are the second and third verses. So when they finally get around to doing this song, and I’m so happy they’re doing my favorite, and they sing only first and last I want to scream! Thank the Lord for Cyberhymnal (or nethymnal) that has all of these songs and you can sing along with the music.

    The song at the top (“Be Still My Soul”)has been a favorite now for about 3 years. It helped me immensely during a very difficult time in my life. ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. I remember them doing this all the time in the Southern Baptist church I grew up in. This, BTW, was back in the 70’s and 80’s, back before use of praise and worship choruses in church became commonplace.

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