LOVE it or loathe it, perhaps the best-known modern worship song
has reached the landmark age of 25. "Shine, Jesus, shine", which
was first released by the songwriter Graham Kendrick
(left) in 1988, has crossed continents and denominations,
and continues to be among the most played songs in churches
Mr Kendrick told the Church Times that he had no idea,
when he wrote the song, how popular it would become. "I was
constantly writing; so there were a number of songs I was trying,
and it was just another one of them." He had written the song into
the context of the March For Jesus movement of the late 1980s, he
said. "It was kind of a new generation finding its voice, and
representing what was happening in the Church," he said.
Something about "Shine, Jesus, shine" seemed to connect with
people - even those of no faith. Mr Kendrick tells the story of a
man caught in a war zone, watching gunfire and missiles from his
hotel room. "Though a non-believer, he felt the need to pray, but
did not know how. The only prayer he could think of was in a song
he had learned at school, and, as he prayed what words of 'Shine,
Jesus, shine' he could remember, a spark of faith ignited, which
became a life-changing flame."
Many people have contacted the Church Times to share
their memories of the much-travelled song. Alan Scantlebury said:
"On the day of March for Jesus, in London, my family and I drove
through the main roads of Jeddah [Saudi Arabia], windows wide open,
blasting out 'Shine, Jesus, shine'. [It] encouraged us in a place
where Christian fellowship was often in twos or threes."
Alison Earey said: "I have a great memory of a houseparty with
about five teenage lads doing worship dance, with ribbons, to
'Shine, Jesus, shine'."
"My fond memory of this song", the Revd James Hill said, "goes
back to when I was helping out at the youth pilgrimage in
Walsingham. I was slightly surprised to hear such a 'low-church'
chorus creeping in to the elegant liturgy, until I realised, to my
horror, they were actually singing 'Shrine, Mary's shrine'."
Mr Kendrick said: "When people sing worship songs that mean
something to them, they become part of their spiritual journey.
When people tell me . . . that they came to faith while singing
['Shine, Jesus, shine'], I just sit back and think 'Wow!'"