New Song: Light of the World

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Our church’s theme for 2016 is Light of the World. It stems from the remarkable promise in Isaiah 49 made by the Lord to his Servant:

5 And now the LORD says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength—6 he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and to bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light to the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 7 This is what the LORD says—the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

That was our text for the first Sunday of the year, and it set our course to consider Christ as the Light of the world, and how by union with him we have become the light of the world.

This line of thinking inspired me to write a song for our congregation, one that stretched from the light of creation (2 Corinthians 4.6) to the light of the Christ (John 8.12) to the light of God’s people (Matthew 5.14–16). Here are the lyrics:

1
Light of the world, You spoke a word into the darkness.
Glory of God came bursting forth in radiant brilliance.
Chaos ruling the gloom—You broke it with Your mighty voice!

Refrain
Lord Jesus, You are the Light that brings life to everyone.
We trust in You—You’re God’s one and only Son.
Bid our darkness flee away, usher in the glorious day.
You are the Light, Light of the world.

2
Light of the world, You are the Word, sent into darkness,
Living the life we failed to live with love and with justice.
Hated, nailed, and left to die, You rose again, the Prince of Life!

Refrain

Bridge
Gospel light dawns, once blind eyes now can see.
We all share in the Kingdom Christ died to redeem.
O Lord, shine Your face on us that You may be known.
Let the nations be glad and in Christ sing for joy!

3
Light of the world, You made us light, shining in darkness,
Flooding the night with rays of hope, exposing injustice,
One with Christ the Son of God, renewed by Holy Spirit power!

Refrain

Ending
We are Your light, Light of the world.
You are the Light, Light of the world.

We’re still learning it as a congregation, but you can listen to our latest attempt to sing it here. This isn’t a professional recording; I offer it so you can catch what it sounds like.

If you like it, you can download the audio by clicking here. And if you think this song would serve your church, you can download the sheet music here. I ask only that you observe standard copyright laws in your use.

Many people had a hand in this finished product, and I am extremely grateful to each one. I note especially:

  • Steven Mann, our worship director, who consulted with me throughout this long process. His musicianship made this song significantly better, and the audio you hear in the link above is his arrangement of the song. Thank you, Steve, for your help—and especially for telling me to rewrite the bridge.
  • Chris Anderson, Timothy Durey, Joshua McCarnan, Joel Mosier, Jonathan Matias, and Garrett Lee, who took time out of their busy pastoral schedules to share substantive comments about and adjustments to the lyrics.
  • David Harris, professor of music at Summit University, whose enthusiasm for this project inspired me to finish well, and who listened critically to an early version of the tune and offered helpful suggestions.
  • the Imel family, my in-laws, who must have heard a thousand variations of this tune in their Ottawa, Illinois home during Christmas break. Thanks for patiently enduring my endless tinkering.
  • Kimberly, my partner in life and the author of one critical line of this song. All my love.
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