Two services tomorrow: a traditional Communion service at Camden Town in the morning and a non-traditional Communion service at Cafe Worship in the evening.
Easter hymns almost pick themselves, and I don’t vary my selection much from year to year. This is what we will be singing in the morning:
- Good Christians all, rejoice and sing
- Low in the grave he lay
- Christ the Lord is risen today
- Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord
- Thine be the glory
Of these, I would regard ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ and ‘Thine be the glory’ as essentials, and I am making the first of these my rather predictable hymn of the week.
‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ is one of Charles Wesley’s earliest hymns, being published in 1739, just a year after his ‘conversion experience’ on Whitsunday 1738. It was written as an Easter hymn, modelled on ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’, an anonymous translation of a 14th C. Latin hymn. Verses written by Charles Wesley also found their way into published versions of the older hymn, so there is some overlap between the two.
It also borrowed the tune of the older hymn, known today as EASTER HYMN. As The Companion to Hymns and Psalms notes, “the tune exemplifies the exuberance which many eighteenth-century tunes affected in reaction to the older psalm tunes’. Although many hymnals have substituted other tunes to ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’, British Methodists still sing it to EASTER HYMN.
Christ the Lord is risen today:
Sons of men and angels say:
Raise your joys and triumphs high;
Sing, ye heavens, thou earth, reply:
Love’s redeeming work is done,
Fought the fight, the battle won;
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;
Christ hath burst the gates of hell:
Lives again our glorious King;
Where, O death, is now thy sting?!
Once He died our souls to save;
Where thy victory, boasting grave?
Soar we now where Christ hath led,
Following our exalted Head;
Made like Him, like Him we rise;
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies:
King of glory! Soul of bliss!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, Thy power to prove,
Thus to sing, and thus to love:
Additional verses, now omitted from Hymns and Psalms, can be found at Cyberhymnal.