Hymn #180: Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Howard M. Edwards III (b. 1955) paraphrased this text from the Beatitudes, the familiar “blessing” delivered by Jesus on the Mount of Olives. The New Century Hymnal marks the hymn’s first publication in a denominational hymnal. It is especially appropriate for use on Epiphany 3, year A, as well as on All Saints’ Day.

Rusty Edwards was born in Dixon, Illinois, in 1955. He was ordained to the Lutheran ministry in 1985 and has since served two Illinois churches, most recently as senior pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, in Rockford, Illinois.

Jane Manton Marshall (b. 1924) composed this tune in 1993 for Rusty Edwards’s paraphrase of the Beatitudes. It is named ANNIKA’S DANCE in honor of liturgical dancer Annika Gustafson, who first interpreted the hymn through that art form.

Jane M. Marshall is a well-known educator, composer, and conductor in the United Methodist Church. She chaired the hymnal supplement task force for her denomination and contributed a great deal of liturgical music to The United Methodist Hymnal (1989).