Christ The Lord Is Risen Today
John Wesley is one of the greatest preachers the world has ever known. In 1739, his followers had become so numerous that he was forced to purchase an old foundry just to provide enough space to accommodate them in his worship services.
For the first meeting in that building, John’s brother, Charles, wrote one of his most popular hymns. Charles had been a Christian for less than a year and would go on to write 6500 more hymns, but this hymn was unique. While most hymns of the day referred to the resurrection in the past tense, Charles proclaimed that Christ is risen today! Those words were powerful and exciting to the crowds that sang them. That’s what made Charles so special and popular. He brought life to the music of the church.
Though Charles’ hymn was an immediate success, he would likely not recognize the version we sing today. Over the years several stanzas of the eleven verse hymn have been dropped and some of the remaining lines have been moved or altered. The biggest change, though, came in the 19th century.
Believe it or not, the original version of the hymn did not have a single “alleluia” anywhere in the text. Although it is widely known for the extended singing of that term of praise, Wesley’s hymn did not include it at all.
The tradition of the church had been to exclude any use of the term alleluia during the 40 days of Lent. Then, on Easter morning, the term was restored to the church and the greetings of “Alleluia” among the church goers would literally rattle the buildings!
Wesley’s hymn became an Easter morning standard. Virtually every church sang it on Easter morning. An unknown editor added an alleluia to every single line of the hymn so that the church could sing alleluia forty-four times throughout the song!
It added a new dimension to an already great hymn. Here is the text of Wesley’s original hymn without any of the politically correct alterations and added alleluias.
1. Christ the Lord is risen today
Sons of men and angels say,
Raise your joys and triumphs high,
Sing ye heav’ns, and earth reply.
2. Love’s redeeming work is done,
Fought the fight, the battle won,
Lo! Our sun’s eclipse is o’er,