May 30, 2022
The Day of Resurrection
(The Hymnal, 210)
The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness,
The Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over,
With hymns of victory.
Our hearts be pure from evil,
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light;
And list’ning to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing,
May raise the victor strain.
Now let the heav’ns be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
The round world keep high triumph,
And all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
Their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.
I attended Lutheran school from third to sixth grade. It was a mixed bag—except choir. Choir was awesome. In song, I was transported away from the pettiness of preteen life into my inner life with God. I came to understand theological truths that had been taught in Sunday school or religion class not just in my head but in my heart and soul.
We practiced “The Day of Resurrection” long and hard. We were going to sing it with the adult choir on Easter Day. Our choir director was tough, but she made a bunch of grade schoolers sound great.
When Easter came, we were in the choir loft with the adult choir. We sang the first two verses beautifully, but that third verse was special. The parts blended in a way that communicated the very thing the verse is about. The descant, melody, alto, tenor, and bass became heaven and earth, all things seen and unseen, the round world and all that is therein blending their notes in joyful, triumphant gladness!
In the second book of C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy, Perelandra, the last chapter expresses this Easter joy. (Spoiler alert. You will still want to read it though.) The Adam and Eve figures have resisted the temptation of the bent one through the help of the earth man, Dr. Elwin Ransom. There is a magnificent celebration where the angels praise God for all his attributes. This praise lasts several pages. Ransom perceives this lasting only a couple of hours, but it has lasted a whole year! Before all this, in the midst of his task, he realized that “If he now failed, this world also would hereafter be redeemed. If he were not the ransom, another would be. Yet nothing was ever repeated. Not a second crucifixion; perhaps-who knows-not even a second Incarnation… some act of even more appalling love, some glory of yet deeper humility.”
This is what we are experiencing and praising. Appalling love. Deep humility. Even some church folks find this hard to take. That God would give what is most precious, his son, his very self, is scandalous. We can’t wrap our minds around it.
This is a mystery I don’t have language for. When I’ve read scholarly works, including that of C. S. Lewis, I find their words work around it but don’t quite get to the heart of it. On the other hand, in Lewis’s fiction, there it is, articulated perfectly in fantasy, myth, and story.
As I found it back in fifth grade, I find it today, in the blending of a variety of voices and instruments and the diversity of human hearts singing in praise. This praise creates understanding of the appalling love and deep humility of God, to which the only fit response is more praise.
For Christ the Lord hath risen, Our joy that hath no end!
For further singing and listening, try #412, Earth and All Stars