1 Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
2 Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!
3 Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!
4 Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!
5 Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!
6 King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
|First Line:||Christ, the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say|
|Title:||Christ the Lord is risen today|
|Author:||Charles Wesley (1739)|
|Meter:||188.8.131.52 with alleluias|
|Liturgical Use:||Opening Hymns|
In every worship service, the words we say and the actions we participate in are somehow shaping us. Perhaps without even being aware of it, worship is doing something to us – it’s forming habits and language inside of us to both teach us why we are in relationship with God, and how to be in relationship with God. One practice that many liturgists and hymn authors have brought into worship is describing an event that happened in the past (usually a moment from the Gospel story) as if it were happening today, in order to instill in us the understanding that, just as God worked in the lives of people two thousand years ago, He is still working today.
The hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is a perfect example of this. Right in the title is an indicator of the present tense: the word “is.” As we sing this song, we are first brought back two millennia as “witnesses” of the resurrection, and then we are also made aware that though the actual event of the resurrection happened once, it is in a sense an on-going event with ever-present effects. We are called today to live out of the resurrection, to follow our risen Lord in newness of life, and to ever lift our “alleluias” in praise.
Charles Wesley’s text originally consisted of eleven stanzas, but the last six are omitted in most contemporary hymnals. The “Alleluia” was added much later by editors for two purposes, as explained by the editors of the Psalter Hymnal Handbook, who write: “The ‘alleluias’ which remind us of the ancient Easter greeting, do more than interrupt the textual flow: they provide the framework for praising God with each line of text” (Psalter Hymnal Handbook).
Some hymnals leave out the original verse seven, which begins “Hail, the Lord of Earth and Heav’n!” This verse is included in the Psalter Hymnal, the Presbyterian Hymnal, the Lutheran Hymnal, and the United Methodist Hymnal.
The tune EASTER HYMN first appeared in the 1708 collection Lyra Davidica. This form of the tune is described by the editors of the Psalter Hymnal Handbook as a “rather florid tune” (PHH). In 1749 it was altered into its spritely and upbeat present version by John Arnold.
The “alleluias” are what make this hymn so special, so they require some extra attention and emphasis. Try having a soloist or small group sing through each line and have the congregation join on the “alleluias” – at least for one verse, since your congregation will most likely want to sing the entire hymn. Otherwise, use a lighter accompaniment or sing in unison on Wesley’s text and pull out all the stops or add harmony on the “alleluias.”
This hymn, written by Wesley for Easter Day, is a perfect processional or song of celebration on Easter morning. It would be fitting to either open or close a service with this hymn, to come in and leave rejoicing in the victory of Christ. The hymn would also work well as a song of assurance, especially when the fourth verse is emphasized: “Soar we now where Christ has led, following our exalted Head, Made like him, like him we rise, Ours the cross, the grave, the skies. Alleluia!” Albert Bailey writes that in this verse, “we have the assurance, originally voiced by Paul, that all followers of Christ will conquer death as did their Master” (Bailey, The Gospel in Hymns, 101).
Laura de Jong, Hymnary.org