It has become a classic to some, and a favorite to many, since its release in 2008. “All I Have Is Christ” was written by Jordan Kauflin and edited by his father. We asked them some questions about the writing of a modern-day classic.
I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still
It’s the dark opening verse to a modern-day hymn that has become a classic to some, and a favorite to many, since its release in 2008. The song is titled “All I Have Is Christ,” and it was written by Jordan Kauflin, a pastor at Redeemer Church of Arlington, Virginia, and edited by his father, Bob Kauflin, the director of Sovereign Grace Music and pastor at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Kentucky.
I recently asked Jordan and Bob some questions about the writing of a modern-day classic.
Jordan, what was the initial inspiration for “All I Have Is Christ,” and what process did you use to write it?
Jordan: As is often the case with me, the finished project was not what I set out to write! My brother Devon and I were working on songs for Looked Upon, an album that Sovereign Grace Music produced in 2008, and I was inspired to write a song that talked about the joy we have in Jesus that is greater than any joy in this world. That led me to try and describe the futility of our life without Jesus: “I once was lost in darkest night.”
I was also influenced by the last two verses in John Newton’s hymn, “Old Things Are Passed Away,” specifically the thought that if God had not loved us first, we would still be refusing his mercy.
Once I settled on the chorus words, I began a laborious process of crafting each line to tell the story of redemption and our response to it. My dad was really helpful in helping me shape the song. I would work on lyrics for a couple weeks, play them, and typically hear: “It’s good, but I think it can be better!”