The national anthem won a reprieve, even though the second verse was judged "uncomfortably imperialistic." The sheer volume of protests rescued "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" -- originally red-lined as too militaristic.

But "Nearer My God to Thee" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" are definitely out: they are considered too "personalistic." Out, too, because of bad theology, are "Once to Every Man and Nation" and "Turn Back, O Man, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways."

They're among the theological Edsels that will be missing from the new Episcopal hymnal. The church's triennial General Convention in New Orleans this week approved the first revision of the hymnal in 42 years, after a series of intense hearings.

According to the Rev. Marion Hatchett of Sewanee, Tenn., chairman of the hymnal revision committee, the new volume is designed to reflect both the Christian heritage and contemporary life, use sexually and racially inclusive language, be ecumenical and singable as well as theologically sound.

Some old favorites have been changed to clean up sexist language, said the Rev. Carl Daw Jr. of Petersburg, Va., a member of the committee preparing the hymnal. In the familiar "In Christ There is no East or West," the line "Join hands then brothers of the faith . . . " has been rendered "Join hands disciples . . . ."

Similarly, the line in "Onward Christian Soldiers" that begins "Brothers we are treading . . . "has become "Christians we are treading . . . "

At least one hymn was modified to delete anti-Semitic suggestions that the Jewish nation was responsible for Christ's crucifixion, Daw said.

The new hymnal retains nearly 350 of the 600 titles of the 1940 version and includes about 150 items never before used in an Episcopal hymnal. Among the latter are a number of spirituals, such as "Go Tell It On the Mountain," "Poor Little Jesus Child," and "Let Us Break Bread Together."

In spite of the heat radiating from discussion of the new hymnal in New Orleans and earlier in denominational journals, Daw predicted smoother sailing for the hymnal than its neighbor in the pew rack, the Prayer Book, whose revision three years ago drove some from the church.

The difference, according to the Virginia priest, is that "the Prayer Book is an official book of the church that must be used; the hymnal is an authorized book that may be used."

The next step in producing the revised hymnal is matching the approved texts to tunes and "in some cases, tunes may have to be composed," Daw said.

The church hopes to have the new volume complete and celebrate it with a hymn-sing at the Washington Cathedral in May 1985.

Daw said the committee objected to "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" because of its "militarism" and its "antagonistic and particularly masculine description of a typical Christian."

"Nearer My God to Thee," "What a Friend We have in Jesus" and "I Need Thee Every Hour" were eliminated, he said, because the committee felt a book intended for public worship should focus on "hymns of corporate expression" rather than on "indvidualistic expression" of faith.

The basic concept of "Once to Every Man and Nation" is theologically unsound, he said. "We don't really believe that God only gives us one chance." "Turn Back O Man" also flunked the theological test, because of "too much of a humanistic progressivism. It seems to say that if you work hard enough, everything will turn out all right. It overlooks the fact of sin and evil."