In the Reformed Church in America’s 1985 Rejoice in the Lord, Erik Routley (speaking for the editors as a group) writes in the “Editor’s Introduction”, “…in the very large majority of cases where “man” is used meaning “humanity,” and “brother” for “other people”, we have made such changes as seem to us to meet the need, and not to damage the original too much. In just a few cases such an amendment has proved impossible, and still we thought the hymn must be included. There are probably not more than four or five of these, and we have occasionally used the “dagger” to alert sensitive singers that a verse contains an undesirable expression.
Here is one such case where they “used the ‘dagger'”, and I am at a loss to see why. I solicit readers’ help in finding what in Cowper’s text the “sensitive singer” might find “undesirable”:
Sometimes a Light Surprises †
†1. Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings:
it is the Lord, who rises with healing in his wings;
when comforts are declining, he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining to cheer it after rain.
I just don’t see the problem.
On the other hand, I like Routley’s choice of Michael Haydn’s OFFERTORIUM (MIDI) as the tune.
(24 hours later)
Looking at it now, it’s obvious to me that it was the “he” that was “undesirable”; I wonder why “it” isn’t acceptable. “It” is the classical gender-neutral pronoun where children are the referents; and Christians are by one definition children, so why not? I know… “it just isn’t done that way”…