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Words: Michael Weisse (b. circa _____, 1488; d. _____, 1534); English translation by Catherine Winkworth (b. Sept. 13, 1827; d. July 1, 1878)
Music: Württemberg, attributed to Johann Rosenmüller (b. circa _____, 1615; d. Sept. 10, 1684)
Note: Michael Weisse was a member of the Moravian Brethren, and edited their first hymn book, which included some of his own songs. One of these is Christ the Lord Is Risen Again (not to be confused with Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, by Charles Wesley). Catherine Winkworth gave us the English version of the German text in 1858.
The Cyber Hymnal uses the tune Württemberg for this hymn, but I found the Alleluia at the end a bit awkward. I note that some hymn books simply omit the Alleluia altogether, leaving the tune metre a simple 22.214.171.124. Quite a few others use the tune for Charles Wesley’s Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (a tune named simply Easter Hymn), and place an Alleluia at the end of every line. This also works with the hymn tune Llanfair, with which I’m more familiar.
The resurrection of Christ is one of the most dominant and compelling themes in all the New Testament. Possibly even more so than the death of Christ, vital to us though that is.
Death was a common fact of life in Bible times, even cruel and violent death. Church history suggests that each of the apostles, with the possible exception of John, died as a martyr, because of his faith, and his gospel preaching. And Jesus died too. But He was not held captive by it. He rose victorious over death and the grave. That was supremely different, and uniquely significant.
In His death, the Lord Jesus paid our debt of sin (I Cor. 15:3). But, without His resurrection (vs. 4), that great sacrifice would have been unavailing. A dead saviour is no saviour at all. In His resurrection, He gave confirming evidence of who He is, and of the truth of His claims (Rom. 1:3-4). His resurrection and subsequent ascension to glory also became God the Father’s seal of approval upon His saving work (Phil. 2:8-9).
Words such as resurrected, raised, and risen are used of Christ dozens of times in Scripture. It is only possible to give a small sampling here.
The anticipation of His coming death and resurrection was part of the teaching Jesus gave His disciples (Matt. 16:21). He also claimed resurrection power, not only to raise others, but to conquer death Himself (Jn. 2:19, 21; 10:17-18; 11:25). And “Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Rom. 6:9).
The good news that He had risen from the dead was announced by angels on Easter morning: “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said” (Matt. 28:6). It then became the insistent message of the apostles that they had seen the risen Christ (Acts 1:21-22; 2:24, 32; 4:33).
The epistles explain how this shattering event is significant to us. Believers have assurance and eternal safety because the risen Christ intercedes for us at the right hand of God the Father (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25). And His resurrection guarantees the future resurrection of every child of God (I Cor. 6:14; 15:20-21; I Pet. 1:3-4).
In the resurrection of Christ we have a powerful motivator to live for Him, and serve Him, and the assurance that the Lord is able to equip us and empower us to do that. The apostle prays for the Ephesian Christians:
“That you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Eph. 1:18-20).
Given its dominance in the Word of God, it is no wonder the hymns of the Christian church, over the last two millennia, have focused again and again on the resurrection of Christ. The Day of Resurrection comes from the pen of John of Damascus, in the seventh century, while the Gaithers gave us Because He Lives in the twentieth century.
Here is some of Michael Weisse’s hymn. (Note: the word “Paschal” (CH-2) refers to the Jewish Passover, the time when “Christ our Passover” was slain (Lk. 22:7-8; I Cor. 5:7).
CH-1) Christ the Lord is risen again;
Christ hath broken every chain;
Hark! Angelic voices cry,
Singing evermore on high, Alleluia!
CH-2) He, who gave for us His life,
Who for us endured the strife,
Is our Paschal Lamb today;
We, too, sing for joy, and say Alleluia!
CH-4) He who slumbered in the grave,
Is exalted now to save;
Now through Christendom it rings
That the Lamb is King of kings. Alleluia!
CH-6) Now He bids us tell abroad
How the lost may be restored,
How the penitent forgiven,
How we, too, may enter heav’n. Alleluia!
1) Can you explain something of the importance of the resurrection of Christ to our Christian lives?
2) What are your favourite hymns for Easter Sunday morning?