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A Note to Follow “So”: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible

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A Note to Follow “So”:

“Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”

Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible


“Do we then make void the law of God through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” -Rom. 3:31


Hammerstein’s Oversight?

Oscar Hammerstein II’s “ note to follow So” in The Sound of Music (1959) is conspicuous by comparison with the more imaginative, creative lyrics aligned with the other notes of the scale.  How much better it could have been simply to characterize “La” by quoting the title of Harry Shorten’s comic strip “There Oughta Be a Law”! [1]  This would have been quite analogous to his matching “Fa” with “a long, long way to run.” [2]

To be sure, Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s production implicitly acknowledged the eighth commandment [3] of the Decalogue when a Roman Catholic nun, with an auto distributor in her hand, cried out to her superior, “Mother I have sinned!”  And at that very instant an unspoken mutual awareness of the “perfect law of liberty” [4] transcended the “letter” that “killeth.” [5]  The audience can hardly avoid the conclusion that if the Nazi soldiers had discovered the sisters’ role in the escape of the von Trapp family, the “letter” of the law most certainly would have been enforced!

Not only is the word “ought” laden with moral judgment, it is part of every man’s conversation.  The title of Shorten’s comic, consequently, was a household expression in America.  For that reason, it is hard to imagine that Hammerstein would not have considered it as the logical mnemonic lyrical candidate to correspond with “La.”

Ought to Be and Is

The fact that “there ought to be a law” is every man’s dictum is proof positive that such a law exists:

For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. [6]

Fuller Seminary’s eminent professor and first president Edward John Carnell designated this universal acknowledgment of a moral law the “judicial sentiment”:

The intuition of our dignity is drawn from the moral and spiritual environment; it is not an acquired characteristic.  An aroused judicial sentiment is merely heaven’s warning that the image of God is being outraged.  Cultural conditioning may alter the direction of the judicial sentiment, but it does not alter the faculty itself. [7]

Every human being freely, if not vociferously, acknowledges a certain manner in which he ought to be treated and a particular manner in which he ought not to be treated.  When there is a violation, road rage, or its equivalent, may result.  Not only ought there to be a law, therefore– there is indeed such a law to which all attest by their thoughts, speech, and actions.  While a person’s perception and application of that law becomes warped by way of his own self-inflation, his awareness of that law is as certain as existence itself.

That law which was inherent in the imago dei in which Adam was created was codified in Eden through God’s original command. [8]  Millennia later that law was clearly defined and covenantally delivered to the nation of Israel in the Ten Commandments which were summarized by Jesus Christ in the two greatest love commands. [9]  When this law is consistently applied, character such as described in the Sermon on the Mount, [10] and represented by the “fruit of the Spirit,” [11] results. The new covenant in Christ Jesus did not nullify the Decalogue.  Quite to the contrary, that moral law is thereby upheld and fulfilled. [12]

The Law’s Purpose

The purpose of the law is, at least, threefold: (1) to reveal God’s distinctive character and expectation with regard to human behavior; [13] (2) to increase the sinfulness of sin in order to magnify God’s grace by way of contrast and conquest; [14] (3) to prod the believer by way of spiritual challenge and thereby thrust him more fully upon  “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” [15] at the point of his failure. [16]

Grace is free but never cheap.  It comes at the expense of Jesus Christ’s faithful obedience to the point of shedding his blood on behalf of condemned sinners. [17]  It is this fact which distinguishes the “faith of God” [18] from other counterfeits and misrepresentations.  Apart from the law of God, there would be no faith at all.  Those who protest this point miss the point altogether.  For justification comes through One who was “made under the law” in order that He might “redeem them that were under the law”–both Jew and Gentile. [19]

Broadway and Hollywood, in general, now project a “La-La world” of make-believe even to the point of romanticizing wrongdoing.  It is promoted on the basis of human “rights,” and heralded as “natural.”  Its effect, even intention, is to portray life as a counter-culture to the morality portrayed by our Puritan and Pilgrim forebears.  The “note that follows So” is tepid, but there is a law to which all men are accountable before God.  While “love is the fulfilling of the law,” [20] love has definition and includes some ground rules! [21]

Hammerstein’s “note to follow So” may simply have been a missed opportunity rather than a moral cop-out.  But his production of 1959 has readily lent itself to a co-opting by a different generation leading to a national consensus that everyone can now “climb every mountain” and “follow every byway” according to one’s self-defined rights–till he finds his dream.  And biblical imagery is used to articulate the “Impossible Dream” of this new American religion. Mainline churches, like politicians, have become so enamored with the message of Broadway that they now trumpet gay marriage as that “heavenly cause” for which professing Christians must “be willing to march into Hell.” [22]  Meanwhile, the Lord’s purpose “for his righteousness sake” remains to “magnify his law and make it honourable.” [23]  “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.  Amen.” [24]



[1]. Harry Shorten’s “There Oughta Be a Law” comic strip ran from 1946 to 1963!

[2]. As for preserving Hammerstein’s  rhyme,  Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language indicates that the “a” in  “law” is pronounced like the “o” in “horn.”  This is very close to the long “o” in the note “Do” and certainly within the range of poetic license.  For Southern audio pronunciation of “law” go to:

[3]. “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exod. 20:15)

[4]. James 1:25

[5]. 2 Cor. 3:6

[6]. Romans 2:14-15

[7]. Christian Commitment: An Apologetic, p. 112

[8].Gen. 1:26-27; 2:16-17

[9].Exod. 20:1-17; Mark 12:28-34

[10].Matthew 5, 6, & 6;

[11]. Gal. 5:22-23

[12].Matt. 5:17-20; Rom. 3:31; 1 Cor. 7:19

[13]. Deut. 4:1-8; Psalm 19:7-11; Micah 6:8; Rom. 7:7; James 1:22-25; 1 Pet. 1:15-16

[14].Rom. 5:20-21

[15]. Rom. 8:2

[16]. Rom. 7:13, 7:23-8:4

[17]. Heb. 12:3-4; 1 Pet. 2:17-19

[18]. Rom. 3:3 Note the presence of the Greek article (equivalent to the English “the”) before “faith” in Gal. 3:25 and Heb. 12:2.

[19]. Gal. 4:4-5; Rom. 3:9-10, 19

[20]. Rom. 13:10

[21]. Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13:4-8

[22]. Phrases quoted from Joe Darion’s Broadway hit song “The Impossible Dream” of  Man of La Mancha.  This was Robert Kennedy’s favorite song which George McGovern quoted in 1968 to help launch Kennedy’s presidential election campaign.  It was played at Senator Edward Kennedy’s memorial service.

[23]. Isaiah 42:21-

[24]. Matt. 6:10




Brand, David Clark. 1991-2009.  Ancient Landmark, The: Biblical foundations of infant baptism.  An online publication by DCB Communications.

Bruce, F. F. 1964. The Epistle to the Hebrews: the English Text with Introduction, Exposition and Notes.

The New International Commentary on the New Testament.  Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Calvin, John. 1960. The Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed., John T. McNeill. 2 vols. The Library of Christian Classics. Vols. 21 & 22. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Carnell, Edward John. 1957. Christian Commitment: An Apologetic. New York: The Macmillen Company.

Geneva Bible. 1560.

Holy Bible (English Standard Version). 2001. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Holy Bible.  1611. King James Version. New York: Cambridge University Press.’Toole/impossibledream-lyrics.htm

Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, The: The Greek Text with a Literal English Translation by The Reverend Alfred Marshall D.Litt. and a Foreward by The Reverend Prebendary J.B. Phillips M.A.  Also a marginal text of The Authorized Version of King James. Second Edition. 1966. London: Samuel Bagster and Sons Limited.

There Ought to Be a Law/ the Midwood Blog

Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language. College Edition. 1962. Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company.



About the Writer

David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary experience in Korea and Arizona.  He and his wife reside in Ohio.  They have four grown children and seven grandchildren.  With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and writing.  One of his books, a contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.



Series Navigation<p></br /></p><< The Witness of the Law and the Other Sacrament (Part 2); “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” Romans 3:3 Geneva BibleThe “La” Before “Foi” in Romans 12:6: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” – Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible >>

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