In less than five weeks, Christians around the globe will observe Easter (or Resurrection Sunday)—the Sunday set apart in the traditional liturgical calendar to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ together form the centerpiece of Christianity. The Apostle Paul reminds the believers in Corinth that at the center of the Gospel he preached are two truths—that Jesus Christ was crucified for sins and that he rose from the dead. Apart from his death for our sin, we continue to bear our guilt and face God’s wrath. Apart from his resurrection, we must conclude that Jesus is under God’s wrath, leaving us without a Savior and most to be pitied of all people.
Two loves birthed this week’s song—a love for the Gospel and a love for a tune.
A Love for a Tune
Since childhood, I have loved the hymn “All Creatures of Our God and King,” written by Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) and commonly set to the tune Lasst Uns Erfreuen (Geistliche Kirchengesäng, 1623). The contrasts and imagery in St. Francis’ text set to the stirring tune never failed to move my soul in worship.
It has been standard practice in English hymnody for a tune to be used for various hymn text. I was disappointed to find that very few hymns were set to this tune (in part due to its irregular meter), and no hymns that were sung in my circles.
It seemed a shame that such a remarkable tune would be restricted to one hymn. In my mind, it deserved and demanded another text. And so, I determined to write one.
A Love for the Gospel
As I sung and meditated on “All Creatures of Our God and King,” I noticed something that disturbed me—it made no mention of the Gospel. (This is something that I noticed in some other great hymns, such as “Amazing Grace” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.” David Ward and I would later write this additional stanza to “Holy, Holy, Holy” to point worshipers to the reason that the thrice-holy God can be both “merciful and mighty.”) The Gospel, we are told, is “the power of God for salvation.” A song without the Gospel is a song without the power of God to save. I began to image what the Gospel in verse might sound like when set to this tune.
These two loves produced an entirely new hymn text—He is Risen!
Shortly after its initial publication, Joshua Otte recorded it on his project “Already But Not Yet,” which is graciously providing as a free download. (Please consider supporting Joshua by purchasing and downloading the entire album.)
I hope that you enjoy “He is Risen!”—and, more importantly, I pray that it helps you enjoy Jesus. If so, please consider sharing it with the song leader as your church for use in celebrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not only on Easter but anytime the church gathers to praise its Risen King.
Before You Go…
I hope you’ll take the opportunity to enter this month’s giveaway, featuring some books by a favorite author, N. D. Wilson. I’m picking four winners, in hopes of spreading the love to as many readers as possible!
Thanks again for reading, listening, and sharing!