Posted by: rcottrill | November 13, 2013

Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise

Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Llanfair, by Robert Williams (b. Oct 27, 1782; d. July 15, 1818)

Wordwise Hymns (Robert Williams)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The hymn was published by Wesley in 1739, and called “Hymn for Ascension Day.” It originally had ten stanzas, though only a few are usually used today. Most use CH-1 and 2, as well as CH-4 and 5. But after that various stanza are selected, depending on the choice of the book’s editor: CH-3, 6, 8, 19.

As the Cyber Hymnal notes, the tune was likely named for Williams’s home town in Wales, which has one of the longest town names on record. In full, it is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandtysiliogogogoch! (The Cyber Hymnal will give you the English translation.)

The Bible tells us that, out of love for us, God the Father sent His Son to this earth to suffer and die for our sins (Jn. 3:16; I Jn. 4:10, 14). Christ was “tabernacled” among us for awhile (Jn. 1:14). But forty days after His resurrection from the dead, He ascended to heaven once more–visibly, in the sight of some of His followers. The ascension is referred to a number of times (Mk. 16:19; Lk. 24:51; Acts 1:9).

CH-1) Hail the day that sees Him rise, Alleluia!
To His throne above the skies, Alleluia!
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia!
Reascends His native heaven, Alleluia!

In John’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus alludes to His coming ascension (Jn. 6:62; 16:28; 20:17). On the Day of Pentecost, Peter, in a sermon, makes reference to the words of David to show that this event was planned by God (Acts 2:29-36; cf. I Pet. 3:21-22). Further, at the time of his death, Stephen sees Christ at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:56). Paul speaks of the ascension as well (Eph. 1:19-23; 4:7-11; I Tim. 3:16), as does the book of Hebrews (Heb. 1:3; 2:9; 4:14).

Of course, as God the Son, Christ had a right to return to His heavenly home, and to the glory that has rightfully His from all eternity. But something more is involved in the ascension. He was now the God-Man, deity incarnate. And, as Man, He had submitted Himself to the will of God the Father, and died for our sins. The ascension is tied to this; it was the exaltation of the Man Christ Jesus.

He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).

In CH-2 and 3, Charles Wesley alludes to Psalm 24 (“Take the King of glory in,” cf. Ps. 24:7-8). This psalm may actually have as much as a quadruple application. Some believe that David composed it for the time when he brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:12-15). It could also picture the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:1-9), and represent a prophecy of the second coming and the Messiah’s assumption of the throne of David in Jerusalem at that time (Isa. 2:1-5; 9:7; Zech 14:4, 9). But in between the latter two, we can also see the psalm as a poetic picture of Christ’s ascension in to heaven.

CH-2) There the glorious triumph waits, Alleluia!
Lift your heads, eternal gates, Alleluia!
Christ hath conquered death and sin, Alleluia!
Take the King of glory in, Alleluia!

¤ The ascension of Christ marked (and is an evidence of) His successful completion of the work of redemption (Heb. 1:3).

¤ In heaven He functions as Head of the church (Eph. 1:19-23), on which He bestows the gifts necessary for us to do the work He has assigned us (Eph. 4:7-16).

¤ In heaven, Christ is also the Christian’s Intercessor and Advocate, as His presentation at the Father’s right hand assures us that we are delivered from condemnation through faith in His sacrifice (Rom. 8:33-34; Heb. 7:25; I Jn. 2:1-2).

¤ The exaltation of Christ assures us that the saints will one day be exalted to heavenly glory with Him (I Cor. 15:51-57; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4; I Thess. 4:16-17), and there He prepares a place for us (Jn. 14:2-3).

¤ Finally, we can pray “in Jesus’ name” for what we need to accomplish His will, and to live Christlike lives and bear faithful witness for Him (Jn. 14:13; Heb. 4:14-16).

CH-6) Still for us His death He pleads, Alleluia!
Prevalent He intercedes, Alleluia!
Near Himself prepares our place, Alleluia!
Harbinger of human race, Alleluia!

CH-8) Grant, though parted from our sight, Alleluia!
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia!
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia!
Seeking Thee beyond the skies, Alleluia!

1) Does your church celebrate the ascension of Christ year by year? If so, what hymns are used on the occasion?

2) What can your church do to give people a better appreciation for the ascension and present ministry of Christ?

Wordwise Hymns (Robert Williams)
The Cyber Hymnal


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