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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: Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (b. July 4, 1715; d. Dec. 13, 1769)
Music: Lindisfarne, by John Bacchus Dykes (b. Mar. 10, 1823; d. Jan. 22, 1876)
Note: Christian Gellert was a German university professor. Something of his story is found in the Wordwise Hymns link. This resurrection hymn was written in German in 1751. When he was told in December of 1769 that he was likely to die in an hour, he lifted up his hands with a cheerful look, and exclaimed, “Now, God be praised, only an hour!”
There have been a number of quite different English translations of the words. This has led to several different tunes being used, as one had to be chosen to fit the particular text. The translation found in the Cyber Hymnal is by Frances Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897). It begins:
Jesus lives! no longer now
Can thy terrors, death, appall us.
There is another version by Philip Schaff (1819-1893). Still another, the first displayed on the title page by Hymnary.org, is by John Dunmore Lang (completed in 1826). It is the one I’ve used here.
Follow the Leader is a children’s game that has been around for at least a couple of centuries– though it was called Follow My Leader at first. A leader is chosen, and the others line up behind. They must go wherever the leader does, and do what he (or she) does, or be out of the game.
The general principle of following the lead of another has been applied to marching, and dancing, as well as to symphony orchestras. It also provides an analogy to what happens in politics or religion. A leader emerges, being selected by a group. The selection is usually based on various predetermined criteria: the past history of the individual, his evident training and ability, a sheer force of personality, and more.
In the political arena, procedures are established for nominating candidates and voting on them. Sometimes the selection produces widespread satisfaction, and the majority follow their captain enthusiastically. Other times the leader fails to live up to expectations. In extreme cases the one appointed is shown to be incompetent, or even dishonest. He loses his following, and is either voted out of office or impeached. Charged with offenses disqualifying him from the position, he is duly dismissed.
In church ministry, similar things can happen, either with regard to one who heads a para-church organization, a church denomination, or one who provides leadership over a local congregation. Leaders are chosen based on their compatibility with the doctrinal position and policies of the group, their understanding of what the job entails, and some ability demonstrated in earlier experience.
Christlike character is also an area of great importance for Christian leaders. Paul told the Corinthian believers, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). Or we might say, follow me to the extent that I follow my Leader. Sadly, there have been instances of sinful behaviour that have resulted, not only in dismissal of the individual, but in a shadow being cast upon the whole group, a circumstance that can hinder their ministry for some time to come.
The incarnate Son of God was (and is) a Leader beyond all others, and frequently, during the years of His earthly ministry, He issued a call to individuals to, “Follow Me” (e.g. Matt. 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 16:24; 19:21). It was a summons to discipleship, to learn from Him things needed for their future ministry, after He ascended back into heaven. But it is another application of following Him that we look at here.
The Lord Jesus referred to this, just prior to His crucifixion, but the disciples misunderstood. He said to them, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward” (Jn. 13:36). The Lord had spoken of His coming betrayal (Jn. 13:21), and His followers were aware of the growing hostility of the Jewish leaders. They thought perhaps He was going into hiding, but He was speaking of His ascension, His return to the Father’s right hand, after His resurrection from the dead (Lk. 24:50-53).
The Bible teaches that because Christ rose from the dead He has provided the means for all who believe on Him to be victorious over death. “Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits [the first of many] of those who have fallen asleep [i.e. in death]” (I Cor. 15:20). It is in light of this that Jesus was able to say, “Because I live, you will live also” (Jn. 14:19).
Based on the latter text, Christian Gellert has given us a fine hymn.
1) Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to die,
Lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me from the dust:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.
5) Jesus lives, and death is now
But my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;
Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.
1) What are some of the reasons Christ had to rise again?
2) What is your favourite resurrection or Easter hymn?