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Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.

“Rise, Shine, You People” was written by Ronald Klug after a colleague at Augsburg Publishing House requested that he write a hymn for the Epiphany season. This verse from Isaiah inspired the hymn. “It was published in a bulletin insert for the fourth Sunday in Epiphany (the first Sunday in February) in 1974. The gospel that day was Luke 4:21–30, where Jesus went to the synagogue with the people on the Sabbath and read the scroll from Isaiah 42: 'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.' Or, in the words of the hymn, ‘Christ the Lord has entered our human story,’ and, evil is ‘reeling.’ So ‘rise, shine,’ celebrate, and hurl ‘your songs and prayers against the darkness.’” Of that line, Klug says:

I had in mind an image: I was staying at St. Augustine’s House, a Lutheran monastery near Oxford, Michigan, for Holy Week. The week ended with an Easter Vigil. We started in the chapel around 11:30 PM, and at midnight rang bells and declared ‘he is risen,’ then sang Easter hymns into the midnight. I remember the feeling of absurdity, the foolishness of the gospel, but also spiritual warfare, our hymns and prayers ‘hurled’ at the Evil One, like an inkpot!Paul Westermeyer

(That reference is to the story about Martin Luther throwing an inkpot at the devil—and leaving a spot on the wall—while he was in hiding at Wartburg Castle in 1521–1522.)

Ronald Allan Klug was born in Milwaukee and studied at Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minnesota. He earned a BS in education in 1962. He taught, was a school principal and did graduate studies in English at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He then worked for two publishing houses, and in 1976 began teaching at the American School in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. He became a freelance writer.

The tune, “WOJTKIEWIECZ,” is named for the composer. It was his family name, which was lost early in this century when an immigration official suggested it be changed to Wood!

Enjoy more information about new hymns or the hymns you already love as we explore the Lutheran hymnody. Use this month’s hymn in your devotions and get to know the tune. We’ll be singing it a few times in worship over the next month or so and adding it to our growing congregational repertoire! Information for this article came from Hymnal Companion: Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress Press).