Hymns – Hymns of the Resurrection

This evening is our last night of hymn singing. Two of the other hymns we are singing tonight are Jesus Christ is Risen Today and See What a Morning.  These were written in different languages and more than 600 years apart but they tell the essential story of salvation that is disclosed on Easter morning.

The hymn “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” (1982 Hymnal 207) was composed in Latin in Bohemia in the 14th c.  The hymn was first published in a collection of hymns entitled “Lyrca Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns, partly newly composed, partly translated from the High German and Latin Hymns, and set to Pleasant Tunes.”  This hymnal was published in London in 1708 by John Baptist Walsh.  Walsh was the rector of the Irish College in Paris. This school was founded during the reign of Elizabeth I to educate Roman Catholic Irish clerics since their schools had been closed by Elizabeth as part of her general persecution of all things Roman Catholic. As we sing this hymn tonight pay special attention to the verb tenses.  The hymn uses the past tense to speak of the Cross and Salvation but the present tense to speak of the Resurrection.  The Resurrection isn’t a past event (like the Cross) but a present Reality that the Church continuously celebrates. 

This hymn influenced Charles Wesley to write his hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today. A later editor took Wesley’s hymn and added in the Alleluias so that it would track its influence.  This leads to the interesting result that some hymnals contain two almost identical hymns. The final stanza of Wesley’s original hymn became verse four of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” in 1982 Hymnal 207.  Other stanzas of Wesley’s hymn (sans the Alleluias) are found in “Love’s Redeeming Work” in the 1982 Hymnal 188. (Apparently, the compilers of the 1982 Hymnal didn’t want two hymns with almost identical first lines.) 

Another hymn we are singing tonight is See What a Morning (2003) by Keith Getty.  Getty is a Northern Irish Presbyterian who is the leader of what is called the modern hymn movement.  In a recent interview, Getty said that “It’s been several hundred years since Christian worship was as shallow as it is today. Christianity is more universal than it’s ever been, but people’s understanding of their faith and the Bible is disappointing.”  He went on to say that “We try to write theological and Biblical truth that speaks in everyday life, as Charles Wesley did. And I try to write melodies that large groups of people can sing.” As we sing this new hymn, notice how the hymn fulfills these twin goals of being deeply theological but readily singable.

The set sheet for tonight is:

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Oktoberfest. Singing begins about 6:45. Hope to see you here. And please sign up for the Flood Buckets (see attached).

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

Paschal Troparion (Eastern Orthodox)

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