389. Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

1 Come, you faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness;
God has brought his people forth
into joy from sadness.
Now rejoice, Jerusalem,
and with true affection
welcome in unwearied strains
Jesus' resurrection.

2 Tis the spring of life today!
Christ has burst his prison,
and from three days' sleep in death
like the sun has risen.
All the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying;
welcome now the light of Christ,
give him praise undying.

3 "Alleluia!" now we cry
to our King immortal,
who, triumphant, burst the bars
of the tomb's dark portal;
"Alleluia!" with the Son,
God the Father praising;
"Alleluia!" yet again
to the Spirit raising.

Text Information
First Line: Come, you faithful, raise the strain
Title: Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain
Author: John of Damascus, 8th cent.
Translator: John Mason Neale (1859, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 76 76 D
Scripture: Matthew 28:8; 1 Corinthians 15
Topic: Doxologies; Biblical Names & Places: Jerusalem; Deliverance (5 more...)
Language: English
Tune Information
Composer: Arthur S. Sullivan (1872)
Meter: 76 76 D
Key: F Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Cor. 15:20-28
st. 2 = Matt. 28:1-9

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. (A canon is a form of Greek hymnody based on biblical canticles consisting of nine odes, each with six to nine stanzas.) His "Golden Canon" is the source of Easter hymns (see also 390). Written around 750 and inspired by the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, this text is John's first ode from the canon for the Sunday after Easter.

John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wrote about science, philosophy, and theology.

All canons in the Greek church demonstrated how Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Christ's resurrection. The first ode of each canon was based on the Passover event and on Exodus 15 as the metaphor for Christ's delivery of his people from the slavery of sin and death (seen more clearly at 390). That metaphor lies behind stanza 1. Stanza 2 uses images of spring and sunshine as metaphors for the new life and light of Christ. Stanza 3 concludes the text with an Easter doxology.

John M. Neale (PHH 342) translated the text in his article on Greek hymnology in the Christian Remembrancer (April, 1859) and reprinted it in his Hymns of the Eastern Church in 1862.

The three stanzas are taken from Neale's stanzas la and 3b (st. 1), his stanza 2 (st. 2), and a doxology from the 1868 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (st. 3).

Liturgical Use:
Easter season.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Better known as an operatic composer than a hymn-tune composer, Arthur S. Sullivan (PHH 46) composed ST. KEVIN for this text. Named by Sullivan after a seventh-century Irish monk, the tune was published in Joseph Barnaby's Hymnary (1872) as well as in Sullivan's Church Hymns with Tunes (1874).

For the sake of the text, sing and play in four long lines rather than eight choppy ones. Sing stanzas 1 and 2 in harmony and stanza 3 in unison.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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