My absolute favorite holy day is Easter. As a pastor I love this culmination of all the work and toil of Lent. I love the joyous crescendo of Easter after the solemnity of Holy Week. Celebrating resurrection so close to the finality of death is a joy that never grows old. And my absolute favorite Easter hymn is “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.”
As I thought about why it is my favorite, I reread all the verses. Charles Wesley wrote the hymn and its original name was “Hymn for Easter-Day.” My favorite part of the hymn is the “Alleluia!” at the end of each line and I found out it was added later. Here are all the verses:
- “Christ the Lord is ris’n to day,”
Sons of men and angels say,
Raise your joys and triumphs high,
Sing ye heav’ns, and earth reply.
- Love’s redeeming work is done,
Fought the fight, the battle won,
Lo! Our sun’s eclipse is o’er,
Lo! He sets in blood no more.
- Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;
Christ has burst the gates of hell!
Death in vain forbids his rise:
Christ has open’d paradise!
- Lives again our glorious King,
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once he all doth save,
Where thy victory, O grave?
- 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!
- What tho’ once we perish’d all,
Partners in our parent’s fall?
Second life we all receive,
In our heav’nly Adam live.
- Ris’n with him, we upward move,
Still we seek the things above,
Still pursue, and kiss the Son
Seated on his Father’s throne;
- Scarce on earth a thought bestow,
Dead to all we leave below,
Heav’n our aim, and lov’d abode,
Hid our life with Christ in God!
- Hid; till Christ our life appear,
Glorious in his members here:
Join’d to him, we then shall shine
All immortal, all divine!
- Hail the Lord of earth and heav’n!
Praise to thee by both be giv’n:
Thee we greet triumphant now;
Hail the resurrection thou!
- King of Glory, soul of bliss,
Everlasting life is this,
Thee to know, thy pow’r to prove,
Thus to sing, and thus to love!
You may notice these verses are a little different than the ones we sing in church. For instance, Charles Wesley’s verses 2 and 3 have been combined. Verses 6 – 10 are usually omitted altogether.
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!” is awesome to sing with a full church on Easter Sunday. God is certainly glorified by all the voices singing together the certainty of resurrection and victory over death. “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!” My soul soars just reading the words.
May you have an Easter full of Alleluias! I hope you celebrate Easter in a church full of people singing. May the joy of Christ’s resurrection allow you to soar.