Hymn Story: Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Christ the Lord is Risen Today celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the conquering of death, when Jesus rose from the grave.
Christ the Lord is Risen Today was written by Charles Wesley in 1739. The original version had eleven stanzas, but did not have the alleluia’s we know today. The hymn was first sung in the Foundry Meeting House, an old iron foundry in London that Wesley converted to religious purposes. The song first appeared in a collection by John and Charles Wesley called Hymns and Sacred Poems .
Scholars are unsure of which tune Charles Wesley initially used, but the three tunes usually considered are “Orientis Partibus,” Savannah,” and “Resurrexit.”
Christ the Lord is Risen Today is often confused with the hymn Jesus Christ is Risen Today. While the hymns are different, the first lines of both hymns are similar. Christ the Lord is Risen Today is believed to be a variation of the 14th Century Latin hymn, Jesus Christ is Risen Today, which Wesley most likely noticed when it was published in Lyra Davidica in 1708. Today, many hymnals include both hymns separately.
The original hymn Charles Wesley wrote had no alleluia’s. Later, someone added the tune we know today to the words. The words did not fit the tune and the Alleluia’s were later added.
Christ the Lord is Risen Today is sung to either the anonymous 17th Century tune Nassau or the tune Llanfair by Welsh composer, Robert Williams. Most modern day hymnals credit the tune as Llanfair. Robert Williams was a blind basket weaver Isle of Anglesey in Wales.
The alleluia’s fit right in with the tune he created. Alleluia means “Praise the Lord” and is taken from a selection of Psalms.
The hymn vividly described not only the resurrection, but also the crucifixion. One source states that “In the years immediately following Christ’s resurrection, alleluia particularly connoted praise for Jesus’ victory over death. Early Christians began greeting each other on Easter with the now-familiar call and response: “Alleluia! He is risen!” “Alleluia! He is risen indeed!” Alleluia is meant to convey emphatic joy, thanksgiving, and triumph.”
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!