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Also see 30+ Ideas for Promoting Hymn Singing in your church. As others have contributed ideas, this wonderful resource has grown to over 80 items now. And, for more than three dozen reasons why congregations should still use hymn books rather than merely projecting words on the wall, see The Value of Hymn Books.
Words: a 14th Century Bohemian Latin carol (Surrexit Christus Hodie)
Music: Llanfair, by Robert Williams (b. Oct. 27, 1782; d. July 5, 1818)
Note: This was originally a Latin hymn from the fourteenth century called Surrexit Christus Hodie (meaning literally “Risen Christ Today”). It was first translated into English in 1708, and with a number of changes and additions it became the fine resurrection hymn, Jesus Christ Is Risen Today, Alleluia (not to be confused with Charles Wesley’s great hymn, Christ the Lord Is Risen Today). In 1749, John Arnold in the Compleat Psalmist took the first stanza of the original, and added two more that weren’t tied to the Latin version at all. The doxology which ends the version in the Cyber Hymnal was added by Charles Wesley.
“Alleluia,” repeated sixteen times in the hymn, is the Greek form of Hallelujah, an exclamation and shout of joy, in Hebrew it’s Halal (praise) Jah (a shortened form of Jehovah or Yahweh). It translates the frequent Old Testament phrase, “Praise the Lord!” (e.g. Ps. 106:1).
A small house fire can usually be managed and put out with a fire extinguisher. But a spreading fire in a building, one that’s beyond easy control, can quickly imperil lives. It poses multiple hazards, not only from the flames, but from the suffocating smoke, and sometimes from explosions, poisonous chemicals in the air, or falling debris. When such a fire is detected, it’s time to get out!
Hospitals, schools, offices, and other public buildings that have many rooms and corridors, usually have an escape route mapped out and posted on the wall in various places. Sometimes there are also fire escapes, steel steps down the outside of the building. Many facilities have regular fire drills so the exit procedure can be practiced.
One of the most tragic fires in American history occurred in 1911, at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, in New York City. (A shirtwaist is a woman’s tailored dress shirt or blouse.) One hundred and forty-six people died. Mostly women, Jewish immigrants as young as fourteen, working long hours for a pittance. Some were killed by the fire, others by smoke inhalation, and still others by attempting to jump from windows to the ground, eight to ten floors below.
The deadliest industrial fire in the city’s history, the restored building, now a part of New York University, has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. The reason for the structure’s notoriety goes beyond the tragedy of the many deaths. It concerns the reason why it happened. Employers had locked the workers in!
Workers’ rights never seem to have been considered. Owners wanted to prevent employees from taking unauthorized breaks, or slipping out with shirts or material they’d stolen. The folly and thoughtless cruelty of this, and the tragedy that followed led to the enacting of new laws and safety standards that continue to benefit workers today, far and wide, with better worker conditions, and proper exit provisions in time of emergencies.
But there’s another kind of exit we need to look at, an even more famous one: the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. Mentioned prophetically a few times in the Old Testament (e.g. Isa. 53:10; Ps. 16:10, cf. Acts 2:22-28), it becomes a major theme of the New Testament. Our eternal salvation depends upon it. The Bible is emphatic about that. “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (I Cor. 15:17).
“Christ died for our sins” (I Cor. 15:3). He thus paid the debt we owe God, so that we, through faith in His sacrifice, might receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16). But if He’d stayed dead and buried it would mean He was an ordinary mortal, and no divine Saviour at all. His “exit” from the grave was necessary. And He was “declared [and proved] to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).
As Man, He died. But as God the Son He had power over death. He said, “I have power to lay it [My life] down, and I have power to take it again” (Jn. 10:18). After His ascension back into heaven, Christ presented Himself to John, early in the book of Revelation, in His glorified state, saying, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades [the realm of the dead] and of Death” (Rev. 1:18).
The present hymn provides another way to rejoice in our wonderful Saviour’s victory–a victory we share, by faith in Him.
CH-1) Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
Who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!
CH-2) Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
Sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!
1) Why is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus so important to us?
2) What is your favourite Easter hymn?