Posted by: rcottrill | September 10, 2014

The Day of Resurrection

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Words: John of Damascus (b. _____, 675; d. Dec. 4, circa 749)
Music: Lancashire, by Henry Thomas Smart (b. Oct. 26, 1813; d. July 6, 1879)

Wordwise Hymns (John Neale)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Many times when people refer to an “old hymn” they are speaking of something like The Old Rugged Cross. But that hymn appeared around 1915–less than a century ago. With The Day of Resurrection we have a truly old hymn, written first in Greek, about thirteen centuries ago! In addition to Lancashire, the tune Ellacombe fits the hymn nicely.

As well as being a hymn writer, John of Damascus was a prominent theologian, and late in life he became the bishop of the church in Jerusalem. Neale described him as, “The last but one of the Fathers of the Eastern Church, and the greatest of her poets.” Another of his hymns, also translated by John Mason Neale, is Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain. It too celebrates the resurrection of Christ. The present hymn says:

CH-1) The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over, with hymns of victory.

The hymn begins by making a connection between what happened to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Jewish feast of Passover. The Bible does the same–in several ways.

The original Passover was instituted when the Israelites were in bondage in the land of Egypt (Exodus chapters 11 and 12). The Pharaoh of that time used them as free labour, as he undertook great building projects. As the treatment of the slaves became more harsh, the people turned to God and cried out for deliverance.

In response, the Lord provided a deliverer in the person of Moses. In a dramatic confrontation with Pharaoh, Moses and his brother Aaron called for the release of the people. Each time Pharaoh dug in his heels and refused, God visited a miraculous plague upon the land. The last and most devastating of these involved the death of the firstborn in every home.

But the Lord provided a means of deliverance from the plague. A lamb was to be slain for each household, and the blood of the lamb was to be applied around the doorway of the house. God promised that when the angel of death visited the land of Egypt that night, he would “pass over” those home where the blood had been applied, and the firstborn would be saved.

This provides what is sometimes called a type (an illustration) for which the New Testament provides the antitype (the fulfilment). Just as the firstborn was delivered by faith’s application of the blood of the lamb, so today faith can claim the shed blood of Christ, “the Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), and be delivered from eternal condemnation.

The connection of the Passover to Christ is underlined by the fact that it was at the time of the Jewish Passover that He was crucified. The meal that the Lord ate with His disciples, just before, was the Passover meal. And it was a part of that meal which the Lord set apart to be celebrated as the Lord’s Supper, until His return. Finally, the Word of God seals the connection by declaring, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7).

But unlike the lambs in Egypt, the Lamb of God did not stay dead. He rose again, triumphant over death and the grave. The risen Lord met His followers and cried, “All hail!” (Matt. 28:9, KJV), or “Rejoice!” (NKJV).

The resurrection of Christ has a continuing application to us. We serve a risen Saviour, and as our great High Priest, seated in heaven, He represents the children of God and bids them appeal to Him for mercy, and grace to help in time of need.

CH-2) Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light;
And listening to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

One further note on the final stanza of this joyful hymn. Many (though not all) hymn books capitalize the word “Joy” in the last line, treating it as a personification of Christ Himself. Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts is another hymn in which that is done. It is a reminder that the source and substance of lasting joy is found in Christ alone.

CH-3) Now let the heavens be joyful! Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen, our Joy that hath no end.

1) It was not simply the blood of the Passover lamb that delivered the firstborn in Egypt, but the blood applied. How does this fit the Christian gospel?

2) What do you have to rejoice in today, because of the living Christ?

Wordwise Hymns (John Neale)
The Cyber Hymnal


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