Introducing Graham Kendrick

We usually provide three hymns in "Songs for the Season" (formerly "Hymn of the Month"). But for this issue we've asked Bert Polman to introduce us to Graham Kendrick, the composer of "Shine, Jesus, Shine," a hymn that has become enormously popular since Kendrick wrote it less than ten years ago.

Who is Graham Kendrick, and what else has he written?

Once upon a time (actually only a few decades ago) most Christian churches were engaged in their traditional practices of worship. For many Christians this meant going to church primarily to sit in what the Canadian comentator Pierre Berton called the "comfortable pew." This "traditional" idea of worship is characterized by some Christians today (rightly or wrongly) as stiff or stilted, or only intellectually empowering.

Then in the 1960s came a renewal in worship, fuelled in large part by the charismatic movement and in a smaller part by the fruits of academic study of worship. Changes swept through many churches, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant mainline, Protestant evangelical, or Reformed.

Scripture songs and praise choruses became the rage, and clapping, raised hands, and even dancing enriched the traditional postures of sitting or standing in church. Supporters claimed that this renewed style of worship was "whole person" oriented, that it offered an emotional component that was not sufficiently present in the traditional patterns of worship.

Important as these changes were, the results of charismatic renewal, Praise & Worship, and the liturgical movement primarily stayed within the church walls, often still tied to the "comfortable pew" that only too frequently characterizes North American Christianity.

Then God sent to his church an English musician named Graham Kendrick. Born in 1950, the son of a Baptist minister in Blisworth, Northamptonshire, Kendrick began his Christian ministry in London, England, serving with Youth with a Mission. When Kendrick joined the Ichthus Fellowship congregation in South London about twelve years ago, he started exploring a kind of church music that was meant to get people not only out of their pews but out into the streets.

Already a popular songwriter, in 1985 Kendrick began to compose an ever-increasing body of songs suitable for what the English came to call "Public Praise," and what today is known as the "March for Jesus" phenomenon.

Since the first march was held in 1985 in London's Soho district, Marches for Jesus have grown in popularity—from 15,000 in 1987 to more than 150,000 in 1989. The marches came to North America in 1991, and here the phenomenon has only continued to grow. For the first Global March on June 25, 1994, about ten million Christians sang through the streets of the cities around the whole world. Through these marches Christians have begun to move beyond their "comfortable pews" to proclaim Jesus as Lord in the public marketplaces, housing complexes, and thoroughfares of their urban settings.

Kendrick, other church leaders, and most participants in any March for Jesus point to the spirit of unity that envelops the churches and individual Christians who join in such an event, to a unity that overcomes the traditional boundaries of denominations, class, and race. Many have experienced these marches as a new mode of public Christian testimony and a great motivator for personal evangelism. Kendrick affirms these benefits but also adds that praise marches are one method of engaging in spiritual warfare. He says, "When churches unite, repent, witness, and evangelize through their city, and pray for the kingdom of God to come and for his will to be done—if that doesn't have any effect on the kingdom of darkness, then what does?"

Songs for Marching

Processional music by the people of God is an old phenomenon, of course: after all, the body of Christ is to be a pilgrim people! Just think of the "psalms of ascent" (Psalms 120-134) in the Old Testament, the chants and hymns associated with the great Medieval crusades, or the penitential music used with Good Friday processions in Roman Catholic communities. And our church hymnals are still filled with some of the gospel hymns that originated in the outdoor camp meetings of the nineteenth century, which led to the modern mass evangelism crusades by Billy Graham and others, often conducted in open stadiums.

So Kendrick's "praise music" builds on a long tradition of Christian processional music. His most popular songs appear to fit neatly into the Praise & Worship movement that has swept through a large segment of North American Christianity. Kendrick's "Meekness and Majesty" (as found in Maranatha! Music Praise Chorus Book, 2nd and 3rd ed.), for example, is somewhat similar to Jack Hayford's "Majesty." "Shine, Jesus, Shine" (pp. 26-27) has quickly gained prominence in the public eye and ear as an outstanding and much-loved example of "praise music," even though its profound lyrics and extended melody are atypical of most Praise & Worship songs. Many of Kendrick's songs, like "Make Way" (p. 25) and "The Earth Is the Lord's" (pp. 22-23) fit not only into an outdoor procession but also into the repertoire of any church-bound praise team or band. Thus Kendrick offers the church a fine body of songs suitable for exalting Jesus in the public corridors of modern life: great songs for marching!

Songs for Kneeling

Kendrick's praise songs are fine vehicles for shouting the lordship of Jesus from the mountaintops of our shopping malls, the crack-filled backyards of ghetto housing towers, or the steps of government buildings. And his March for Jesus movement has certainly pushed the church beyond its "comfortable pew" into the highways and byways of public life. But Kendrick also reminds the whole Christian community that praise is only one aspect of worship—it needs to be balanced with lament, with intercessory prayer. And to a North American church that is often proud of its recently-revived gesture of raised hands in praise to God, a church that has relegated intercessory prayer mostly to spoken prayers, a church that sorely needs a social justice component in its worship, Graham offers a new body of sung laments: great songs for kneeling!

One of Kendrick's oldest songs, "Lord, Have Mercy on Us," is but the ancient Kyrie eleison sung anew:

Lord, have mercy on us.
Come and heal our land.
Cleanse with your fire,
heal with your touch.
Humbly we bow and call upon you now.
O Lord, have mercy on us.<
1986, Thankyou Music. Admin. by Maranatha! Music. Used by permission.

Imagine this song sung right on a Washington, D.C. street within earshot of some of the most influential politicians on earth, or on Wall Street or Bay Street amidst the economic power brokers of New York City or Toronto! Kendrick composed "O Lord, the Clouds Are Gathering," "Revive Us Again," and "If My People Who Bear My Name" in a similar vein, as songs of intercession. Sometimes these sung prayers are used in training sessions prior to a march, and sometimes during the march itself.

One of the most poignant of these laments is "Who Can Sound the Depth of Sonow" (see p. 24), which is a prayer for the children of the world who are rejected, abused, and aborted. By extension, it is a prayer for all the marginalized people of the world: the poor, the widow, and the orphan (the Hebrew term anawim refers to the "lowly of the Lord"), who were championed by Old Testament prophets such as Amos and by New Testament disciples such as Dorcas.

In tune with the emphasis on intercessory prayer, Kendrick also promotes a quieter approach. In contrast to the public and massive praise marches, he recommends "prayerwalking" in groups of two or three. He says,

Prayerwalking is one way that we can ask God to transform a community—one step at a time. In hundreds of cities across the globe, believers are prayerwalking through their city streets. It can be simply defined as "praying on site with insight." . . . Prayerwalking is . . . as ancient as Abraham's walk through the promised land or Joshua's march around the city of Jericho. Quiet prayerwalks complement more high-profile praise marches and prayer rallies.

Thanks be to God for Graham Kendrick and his ever-growing body of lyrics and music that testify to the reign and compassion of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit!



Song Collections

Make Way—Public Praise by Graham Kendrick
Make Way Music/Kingsway Music, 1991 edition

This collection is both an anthology of songs and an extensive introduction to praise marching, with many helpful ideas for planning a March for Jesus. Its musical content consists of three groups of Kendrick songs, each with performance notes, music (unison voice with piano and guitar chords), and separate lyric sheets.

King of the Nations by Graham Kendrick Word Music, 1993

This collection offers two types of songs, a group of praise march songs, and a group of songs of intercession. Each song is given in a setting for unison voice with piano and guitar chords, and with the actual rhythm charts used for the recording of this material on HeartCry cassettes (#701 9389 503) and CD #701 9389 600). A large-print version of the lyrics concludes this collection.

SATB Settings of Songs by Kendrick:

Amazing Love, arr. by R. Smith (Integrity Hosanna! Music #41130C)

For This Purpose, arr. by D. Marsh (Integrity Hosanna! Music #41100C), and by T. Fettke (Word #3010612168)

Meekness and Majesty, arr. by J. Schrader (Hope #GC927)

Shine, Jesus, Shine, arr. by J. Schrader (Hope #GC937), and by T. Fettke (Lillenas #AN8079)

What Kind of Greatness, arr. by B. Krogstad (Word #3010848161)

These hymn anthems can also involve congregation and/or children's choirs in the manner of a hymn concertato. Accompaniment tracks for several of these SATB settings are available, although the use of these constitutes a violation of "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's orchestra"—it's better to use your own musicians and creativity!

A Few Recordings

The Kendrick Collection Langham Arts/Word, 1989

This recording features the All Souls Orchestra & Choir (London, England), conducted by Noel Tredinnick, with worship leaders/soloists Graham Kendrick, Cliff Richard, and Precious Wilson. It offers seventeen songs by Kendrick, including "Rejoice, Rejoice!" "Christ Is in You," "O Lord, the Clouds Are Gathering," "Shine, Jesus, Shine," "Jesus Put This Song into Our Hearts," and "Meekness and Majesty."

Public Praise: Crown Him Integrity Hosanna! Music, 1991

Though recorded professionally, parts of this recording give the impression of an actual "March for Jesus" with its outdoor chants and shouts, praise singing, and songs of intercessory prayer. The unidentified singers and band perform some twenty Kendrick songs, including "History Makers," "Go Forth in His Name," "Open the Gates," "Lord, Have Mercy," and "And He Shall Reign," as well as a few stanzas from traditional hymns. A first group of songs are intended as preparation, to unite the hearts of the praise march participants, while the second group are songs of proclamation for use during the march itself.

For Further Reading

Learning to Worship As a Way of Life by Graham Kendrick. Bethany House, 1985.

This is Kendrick's initial contribution to the theology and practice of the Praise & Worship movement, in which, unlike other early exponents of this phenomenon, he points to the need for praise to be tied to issues of social justice. See the review of this book in Reformed Worship 20 (June 1991, p. 36).

Public Praise by Graham Kendrick. Creation House, 1992.

Prayerwalking by Graham Kendrick & Steve Hawthorne. Creation House, 1993.

Both of these books contain essays on praise marches, focusing on the spiritual dynamics as well as the history of the "March for Jesus" phenomenon. Kendrick not only offers an excellent defense of the need for Christians to be out in the streets praising Jesus in a public testimony of song, but also counsels the church to repent of its internal evils and to offer intercessory prayer for the sake of the whole world.



This is one of Kendrick's finest hymns of intercessory prayer, a Kyrie eleison [Lord, have mercy] for the children of the world that are rejected, abused, and aborted. Confessing that God will come with judgment, Kendrick points us to the cross of Christ as the only place to "wash the guilty clean" of such evils. A simple melody for the stanzas is united to a musically more-poignant refrain. Use this hymn as part of your intercessory prayers.



Probably Kendrick's best-known hymn, this text, inspired by 2 Corinthians 3:18, is a prayer for a spiritual awakening across the entire world. Each stanza deals with our relationship to Jesus, the light of the world; the refrain delightfully mixes metaphors to urge renewal of our land, our hearts, and all the nations. A sequence of melodic phrases mark the stanzas, while the refrain leaps into action with its charmingly syncopated motive. Use this hymn during Epiphany and Pentecost, and also use just the chorus as a "frame" around settings of Psalm 27 or with hymns such as "How Bright Appears the Morning Star" or "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies."

The song with dance motions is on pages 26 and 27 as found in the Leader's Edition of Songs for LiFE.



This is an Advent hymn based on Psalm 24:7 and Isaiah 61:1-3. The simple melody and echo-refrain of this song make it eminently suitable for a children's choir as well as for congregations or for a March for Jesus. In fact, it misses much of the joy and energy when only one group sings the refrain; plan ahead for two groups.


This song is a modern rendering of Psalm 24:1-2, "The earth is the LORD'S and everything in it," including "the cities and towns, the houses and streets..., all things were made for his glory." This energetic chorus is characteristic of Kendrick's style. In fact, he suggests alternating every two measures between men and women up to the sign, and then singing together.


September: "Song of Hope"

October: "In Christ There Is No East or West"

November: "Lift Up the Gates Eternal" (Psalm 24)

Being the Church

230 Shine, Jesus, Shine

This hymn, written in 1987 by Graham Kendrick, was first sung in his home church in London, England. The text expresses his desire for a spiritual awakening across the world that is both communal (us, we, our; see 2 Cor. 3:18) and individual (I, me; see John 12:46). Each stanza deals with some aspect of light (shining, darkness, shadows, brightness). The refrain petitions God to renew our land, our hearts, and the nations with his light. This song has become immensely popular in many countries.

Accompany with keyboard and guitar; sing with full voices. Sing in congregational worship during Epiphany, Easter, or Pentecost as an opening or closing hymn.

The following circle dance was choreographed by the third-grade class of Seymour Christian School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, under the leadership of Tim Quist and Kathy Sneller.

Form circles of five or more children. Dancers should focus their eyes on their hands so the face becomes part of the dance and not a distraction. (This really helps those of us who are self-conscious!) Begin with the refrain. In worship, the whole congregation can join with minor adaptations on the refrain.

raise arms and eyes slowly in a circular
fashion until both arms are raised
high above head

Shine, Jesus, shine,
fill this land with the Father's glory.
repeat; end with arms reaching high
above head

Blaze, Spirit, blaze,
cross hands at wrist, move them gently back and forth to make a flame/dove

set our hearts on fire.
lower flame to heart, rum around slowly until facing center of circle

Flow, river, flow,
join hands, rock right, left, right

flood the nations
hands still joined, take small step, bend and reach to center "let the water rise"

with grace and mercy.
end with arms extended from the side

Send forth your Word,
palms up, bring straight arms to front
one at a time—"sign" Bible

Lord, and let there be light.
arms up, look up!

Stanza 1:

Lord, the light of your love is shining
hands high, heads up, "feel the light
shining on you"

in the midst of the darkness shining;
put back of left wrist on forehead,
lower head, right arm reaches to center
to "make darkness," take small step

Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us;
look up, extend arms to side to make
the circle big

set us free by the truth you now bring us:
make fists and cross as if tied at wrist,
break free on the word "free"

Shine on me, shine on me.
reach arms high, look up, turn to face
out for refrain

Stanza 2:

Lord, I come to your awesome presence,
everyone turns to the left and walks
slowly in a circle, head bent reverently

from the shadows into your radiance;
on "shadows" stop and turn toward
center, reach up, look up but not high
this time—the radiance is too great

by the blood I may enter your brightness,
cross arms in front of body, palms facing
you, bow head

search me, try me, consume all my
kneel on one knee; make a motion
with hands as if pushing the darkness
behind you

Shine on me, shine on me.
raise arms and eyes first, then stand
and reach high, turn to face out for

Stanza 3:

As we gaze on your kingly brightness,
arms at side, look up

so our faces display your likeness,
move right hand, palm facing you in front of face, reach up, repeat with left hands, follow with eyes

ever changing from glory to glory,
on the word "glory" bring right hand down in front of you and out to your side, repeat with left hand on the second word "glory"

mirrored here may our lives tell your story:
hold position; with both arms make a giving motion from the chest, arms extended in front of body, palms up

Shine on me, shine on me.
reach arms high, look up, turn to face out for refrain

Bert Polman was a hymnologist, professor and chair of the music department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He passed away in July 2013. 

Reformed Worship 39 © March 1996, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.