Article

“Jesus, the Light of the World”

Hymn Study
by Dean McIntyre

TITLE: "Jesus, the Light of the World"
AUTHOR: Ken Bible and George D. Elderkin
TUNE: ELDERKIN
COMPOSER: George D. Elderkin, alt. by Ken Bible
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3056
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 119:105; John 8:12; 2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 21:23
TOPICS: Darkness, Day, Light, Light of the World, Mercy, Morning Star, Night, Shine, Star, Time, Walk

Background

There is little biographical information available on George Wicker Elderkin (1845-1928) or on the composition of this song. "Jesus, the Light of the World" appeared in Songs for Help: for the Sunday school, evangelistic and church services, published in 1917 and copyrighted by Elderkin in 1890. It included four stanzas of Charles Wesley's "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" in the verses, combined with a "Jesus, the Light of the world" as a response, and the familiar "We'll walk in the light, beautiful light" refrain following each verse.

The version in Worship & Song has been adapted by author, teacher, publisher, and hymn writer Ken Bible. He has published fifteen books and more than 400 songs with contributions to twenty major hymnals. He edited the hymnal, Sing to the Lord, and he is the compiler of the popular Master Chorus Book collection. Bible and his wife, Gloria, are co-founders of Living the Natural Way, which provides Christian materials. They live in Olathe, Kansas.

Bible's adaptation includes new text for the verses, centering on the theme of Jesus as the Light of the World. It is especially appropriate for Christmastide and Epiphany, but also for general use. Bible has changed Elderkin's original 6/8 meter to 6/4, making it easily styled as a slow, heavily accented gospel song.

Sources

Categories: Hymn Studies