Chuck King briefly discusses refrains that were tacked onto existing hymns in the 19th century, covering one example, “At the Cross,” in detail.
This happened a lot in the 19th century, especially (or, specifically?) in the context of revivalist meetings. Songwriters sometimes began with the texts of existing hymns, and added a chorus (refrain). As we will see in the most familiar, abiding example, the added refrain contained very personal vocabulary and applied the “gospel” message to individuals.
This is a practice that can be found today, as well, such as in Chris Tomlin’s “My Chains Are Gone” refrain for the hymn “Amazing Grace.” King promises another article soon to come discussing that very subject.