Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness (ELW 843)

Lutheran pastor The Reverend Rusty Edwards offers this insight about his hymn text:

“Have you ever started to do one thing, and then ended up doing something else? That’s exactly what happened with the writing of ‘Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness.’ I intended to create a Bible study. This study would look at the life and unique ministry of Jesus. I wanted people to get closer to Jesus. We would ask the question, ‘What on earth did Jesus really do?’ Of course, the way to build a study such as this was to go back to the Bible, and read again, with new eyes, the story of his life. I did just that, and was amazed at what he did. I began with the gospel of Mark, but then continued with the three other gospels. As I prayed, studied and thanked God for the life of Jesus, I began to write down some of his works. The list grew longer. Suddenly, I gazed down at the list, and the list looked almost like a hymn. That’s when the Bible study got put on hold for a while! I wish I could take credit for the wide use of the hymn, but I really can’t. The Holy Spirit was the one who changed my mind, the Bible study became a song. The popularity of this song has everything to do with the message of the story. It has everything to do with Jesus. The text points directly to him, and the gospel unfolds in the words of the song. That is why we sing it. Look for a moment at some of the things he was able to do. Besides being a liberating light, he freed prisoners from their inner chains. He gave sight to the blind. He preached. He was a healer. He fed the hungry. He calmed the storms. He was living water! Most of all, Jesus was love incarnate. John 3 reminds us that God didn’t send Jesus to earth out of anger, but out of love for the world. Jesus was even willing to die, so that we might know the grace of God. And he rose from the dead! The song ends with words of joy. If anyone wonders if the church has any redeeming value, this hymn answers the question. Jesus is our redeemer.  Source: Edwards, Rusty. “Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness.” CrossAccent, vol. 15, no.2

Did you know? Pastor Edwards (b. 1955):

  • Sang on a Grammy-nominated CD with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Robert Shaw.
  • Published five collections of hymns.
  • Has had two dozen of his hymns appear in 70 hymnals used by 40 denominations in Australia, Canada, China, England, Japan, New Zealand, Scotland, and the United States.
  • Five collections of his hymns have been published
  • His hymns have been sung on every continent, including the Chapel of the Snows in Antarctica.
  • Dave Brubeck wrote the tune for one of his hymns, “As the Moon Is to the Sun”

Pastor Rusty Edwards’ degrees include:

  • M. Div. Luther Seminary; D. Min, Graduate Theological Foundation, Notre Dame; and Certificates from
  • Blackstone School of Law, Dallas TX,
  • Seminary of the Southwest, Austin TX, and
  • Pecos Benedictine School of Spiritual Direction, NM.

He currently serves as Senior Pastor at Christ Lutheran Church (Marietta, Georgia).

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