Mfurahini, haleluya (Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia)

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Easter hymns accomplish three functions: they recount the Easter narrative, proclaim our Easter hope, and celebrate our joy at Christ’s resurrection. This hymn is built on the professions of Easter truths that are expressed primarily in Heidelberg Catechism. Note especially the following:

  • Lord’s Day 17, Question and Answer 45 declares that Christ’s resurrection makes us share in Christ’s righteousness, raises us to a new life by his power, and is a sure pledge to us of our resurrection.
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 57 comforts us to know that not only our soul but “also my very flesh will be raised by the power of God, reunited with my soul, and made like Christ’s glorious body.”
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 58 says that it may be a comfort to know that while experiencing the beginning of eternal joy now, “after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.”

In addition, Our Song of Hope, stanza 5 professes: “On the day of the resurrection, the tomb was empty; His disciples saw Him; death was defeated; new life had come. God’s purpose for the world was sealed.”


Mfurahini, haleluya (Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia)

Call to Worship

Joyful is the sound we make this morning!
For this day liberates us from doubt and fear.
Thankful is the song we sing!
For this day moves us past darkness and despair.
Hopeful is the prayer upon our lips!
For this day awakens in us long-awaited new life.
Jesus said, “Where two or more are gathered in my name,
I am there among them.”
Christ lives here and now.
He is among us at this and every moment!
May his peace and presence be known to you.
And also to you.
Let us greet one another with expressions of Christian love.
—based on Matthew 18:20
[Reformed Worship 58:19]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Words of Praise

In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ,
fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives,
forgiving sinners,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified,
suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raised Jesus from the dead,
vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil,
delivering us from death to life eternal.
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
—from A Brief Statement of Faith
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two


If we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord
and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead,
we will be saved.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
—based on Romans 10:9, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

This is the good news that we have received,
in which we stand, and by which we are saved:
Christ died for our sins, was buried,
was raised on the third day,
and appeared first to the women,
then to Peter and the Twelve,
and then to many faithful witnesses.
We believe Jesus is the Christ,
the Anointed One of God,
the firstborn of all creation,
the firstborn from the dead,
in whom all things hold together,
in whom the fullness of God
was pleased to dwell
by the power of the Spirit.
Christ is the head of the body, the church,
and by the blood of the cross reconciles all things to God. Amen.
—based on 1 Corinthians 15:3-7; Colossians 1:15-20
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
From everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Speak to us now as you have spoken to us throughout the ages.
On this glorious Easter, reveal yourself and your will for our lives,
that we might live as your Easter people.
We seek your face, O Lord; hear our prayer through Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
—based on Psalm 90
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Mfurahini, haleluya (Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia)

Tune Information

F Major
9.9.9 refrain


Musical Suggestion

Coming to us from Tanzania, via the Lutheran Church, this has become a favorite Easter song in part through recordings by St. Olaf and other choirs. Don’t be lulled into a slow tempo by the four-part harmonies and ¾ meter. This should move along at a lively tempo with one pulse per measure and 4—or even 8—measures per phrase/breath. The song works perfectly well with energetic a cappella singing, but can also be accompanied by djembes, bells and shakers. Shape the narrative text by giving the angels’ proclamation in verse 3 to the men and the woman’s testimony in verse 4 to the women. 

— Greg Scheer

This joyful Tanzanian resurrection narrative deserves a place alongside classic Easter story songs. It can be led by organ or piano, but really comes alive with driving African percussion.
— Global Songs for Worship

Mfurahini, haleluya (Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia)

Hymn Story/Background

“Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” comes to us from African Lutheranism.

Bernard Kyamanywa wrote the original Swahili text while he was in seminary in Tanzania in 1966. He wrote it in a very African style, envisioning a story-teller and congregation responding; the story-teller presents the simple story of the Easter Gospel, and the congregation responds with the refrain, although it can be sung in unison.
— St. John's Lutheran Church Chicago (http://stjohnschicago.org)

Author Information

Howard Olson (b. 1922; d. 2010), longtime missionary/teacher in African, compiled a number of African songs in Set Free (Augsburg Fortress, 1993). Many were folk tunes to which Christian Swahili texts were later added. He wrote in the introduction: “In their original form these tunes wee sung with uninhibited improvisation. Consequently the form in which these songs appear in this book represents only one of several possibilities.”  

Bernhard Kyamanywa (b. 1938) was an orphan and was taken in by the Bethel Mission and raised by a German deaconess. He first became a teacher, but in 1968, started working as a Lutheran pastor in Tanzania. The song’s lively melody is also from Tanzania.
— Katharina Moeller (http://www.st-georgs-toronto.com/Sermons.html)
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