Monday, April 21, 2014

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Each day this week I'm going to write a post inspired by a verse of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," the best known Easter hymn!

I truly can't imagine an Easter morning without this song as the opening hymn. "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" means Easter to me. Because I've grown up in Methodist churches, the version I know is the one in the United Methodist Hymnal, so I'll use those lyrics. So, here's the first verse:

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!

This is a verse full of joy. First of all, it gets right to the point: Christ the Lord is risen today. And while this is definitely a traditional hymn, it is true *anytime*. Christ the Lord is risen *today*. If we are Easter people, then that means we experience and rejoice in the resurrection daily. God is always renewing us, filling us with joy, and reminding us that we have abundant life in Christ now.

In the second and fourth lines, this verse talks about.heaven and earth, and in both places, everyone is praising God. In the second line of the hymn, earth and heaven are in unison, singing "Alleluia!" to God together. That harmony between earth and heaven is something we should seek; think about the Lord's prayer. "May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." In the fourth line, the earth is replying to the heavens; they're singing to each other and to God. We share our praise not only with God but with each other. It makes me think of the traditional Easter greeting and reply:

Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The third line is part of our instruction in how we should respond to the news of Christ's resurrection: praise. For all our joys and triumphs we should praise God, for our greatest joy and triumph is in the new life the Lord gives us.

Finally, the echo of "Alleluia!" It's a word of praise and joy, and it's used more during the 50 days of Easter than during any other church season. The Easter season is just that joyful!  But one of the reasons I love the repetition of "Alleluia!" in this song is that it's so often the opening hymn on Easter morning -- which means the Alleluias in this song are some of the first after a Lent lacking in them. In many liturgical traditions, "Alleluia" and "Hallelujah" aren't used at all during Lent -- it's called burial of Alleluias. After 46 days, it's so exciting to have them back and to sing this song full of joy and praise and "Alleluia!"

Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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