Sunday, April 8, 2012

Celebrate! The Lord is Risen!

A blessed Easter to all! Say, "Christ is risen!"; and hear the reply, "He is risen indeed!" In the (slightly adapted) words of a wonderful hymn by Isaac Watts:
He dies! the Friend of sinners dies!
Lo! Salem's daughters weep around!
A solemn darkness veils the skies;
A sudden trembling shakes the ground:
Come, saints, and drop a tear or two
On the dear bosom of your God:
He shed a thousand drops for you,
A thousand drops of richer blood.

Here's love and grief beyond degree;
The Lord of glory dies for man!
But lo! what sudden joys I see;
Jesus, the dead, revives again!
The rising God forsakes the tomb;
The tomb in vain forbids his rise!
Cherubic legions guard him home,
And shout him welcome to the skies!

Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliverer reigns;
Sing how he spoil'd the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains.
Say, "Live forever, wondrous King!
Born to redeem, and strong to save!"
Then ask the monster, "Where's thy sting?"
And, "Where's thy victory, boasting grave?"1
Or, in the words of the full version of the classic Charles Wesley hymn for an occasion no less than this:
"CHRIST the Lord is ris'n To-day,"
Sons of Men and Angels say,
Raise your Joys and Triumphs high,
Sing ye Heav'ns, and Earth reply.

Love's Redeeming Work is done,
Fought the Fight, the Battle won,
Lo! our Sun's Eclipse is o'er,
Lo! He sets in Blood no more.

Vain the Stone, the Watch, the Seal;
CHRIST hath burst the Gates of Hell!
Death in vain forbids his Rise:
CHRIST hath open'd Paradise!

Lives again our glorious King,
Where, O Death, is now thy Sting?
Once He died our Souls to save,
Where thy Victory, O Grave?

Soar we now, where CHRIST has led,
Following our Exalted Head,
Made like Him, like Him we rise:
Ours the Cross; the Grave; the Skies.

What tho' once we perish'd All,
Partners of our Parent's Fall,
Second Life we All receive,
In our Heav'nly Adam live.

Ris'n with Him, we upward move,
Still we seek the Things above,
Still pursue, and kiss the Son,
Seated on his Father's Throne;

Scarce on Earth a Thought bestow,
Dead to all we leave below,
Heav'n our Aim, and lov'd Abode,
Hid our Life with CHRIST in GOD!

Hid; 'till CHRIST our Life appear,
Glorious in his Members here:
Join'd to Him, we then shall shine,
All Immortal, all Divine!

Hail to the LORD of Earth and Heav'n!
Praise to Thee by both be giv'n:
Thee we greet Triumphant now;
Hail the Resurrection Thou!

King of Glory, Soul of Bliss,
Everlasting Life is This,
Thee to know, thy Pow'r to prove,
Thus to sing, and thus to love!2
What a wonderful thought! And today is the day we have the privilege of celebrating it. I don't think I can express it better than the words of Paul:
If we've been united with him in a death like his, we'll certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we'll also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he can't die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:5-11)

1 Hymn 553, in John Wesley, A Collection of Hymns, for the Use of the People Called Methodists (London: John Mason, 1845), 515; compare a similar version as Hymn 133 in Hymn-Book of the Evangelical Association (Cleveland, OH: Evangelical Association, 1882), 81.
2 John Wesley and Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems. 4th ed. (Bristol: Felix Farley, 1743), 144-146.

* For Easter, see also Kristine's post "Eternity's Sunrise" at the By Common Consent blog, and also the recent videos put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "He Is Risen" and "Jesus Is Resurrected".

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