April 18, 2022
Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!
(The Hymnal, 207)
There is a meme that is popular among Episcopalians.
My response is always, “Why do I have to choose? I love both!” Happy/clappy (as the Brits say) worship music is enthusiastic and passionate. The worshiper radiates their love for Jesus. Choral/hymnal worship music is complex and beautiful. Harmonies and descants swell in the worshiper’s heart creating a sense of transend
adnce and awe. And the words are theological poetry.
A few years ago, I went down a Spotify rabbit hole and found lots of different versions of favorite hymns. I fell in love with hymns set to every genre of music. Mixing it up between choral versions and versions that are “fresh takes” deepened their meaning and enlivened my commute.
The first Advent of the pandemic I made an eclectic playlist of hymns based on those found in the Advent section of the Hymnal 1982.
Each Monday of the Great 50 Days of Easter, we will look one of the hymns and reflect on its role in our worship of the Risen One.
Today, we are starting with a popular favorite: “Jesus Christ is risen today” (#207).
This is THE quintessential Easter hymn. During the whole of my life, I cannot remember an Easter where this was not sung. While it is usually the opening hymn at most Easter services, there is nothing like it when it is sung at the Great Vigil of Easter.
At the vigil, we recall the drama of creation and the fall, the flood, the binding of Isaac, the parting of the Red Sea, and the dry bones. We then renew our baptism. After we come up from the baptismal waters, it is announced, “Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”
The organ swells. We ring bells, we jingle keys, we sing:
1. Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once, upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!
2. Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save, Alleluia!
3. But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!
4. Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
praise eternal as his love, Alleluia!
praise him, all ye heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!
We make a lot of noise! We bring our passion and enthusiasm to the celebration of the best thing that has ever happened. If we are half paying attention, we might notice that the words we are singing tell why we are here. We are here to worship Jesus, the risen one, who suffered, endured cross, pain, and grave
, to save and redeem sinners (us).
Heaven and earth touch. Righteousness and peace kiss (Psalm 85:10). Episcopalians get all Happy/Clappy whilst worshiping in a Choral/Hymnal style.
By the end of the hymn, my throat is hoarse because I have sung out to the Lord with all my might. I pop in a throat drop because this is just the beginning. There are more hymns of Easter to be sung!