This Joyful Eastertide

My friend James Anderson introduced me to this very worthy resurrection hymn a few years back, and I relished singing it in a mixed quartet.  Take a look at this jubilant text while you listen to the choir of King’s College, Cambridge:

This joyful Eastertide,
away with sin and sorrow!
My Love, the Crucified,
hath sprung to life this morrow.
Had Christ, that once was slain,
ne’er burst his three-day prison,
our faith had been in vain;
but now is Christ arisen,
arisen, arisen, arisen.

Death’s flood hath lost his chill,
since Jesus crossed the river:
Lover of souls, from ill
my passing soul deliver, Refrain

My flesh in hope shall rest,
and for a season slumber,
till trump from east to west
shall wake the dead in number. Refrain


I love the vividness of this text by Charles Woodward, composed in 1894.  It is a marvelous  example of using striking and stirring words instead of insipid or common ones:

“has sprung to life” instead of, say, “is raised to life” or “has come to life”
“was slain,” not merely, say, “had died”
“burst his three-day prison” (!) instead of the more common language of rising from the dead.
“wake the dead,” not merely “raise the dead”

Notice the echoes of 1 Corinthians 15 throughout the hymn (quotes from the KJV Woodward would have used):
“Away with sin”: “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3)
“three-day prison”: “he rose again the third day” (1 Cor 15:4)
“for a season slumber”: “them that slept” (1 Cor 15:20)
“Till trump from east to west shall wake the dead in number”: “For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised” (1 Cor 15:52)
“Death’s flood has lost its chill”: “O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Cor 15:54)
And especially the refrain, “Had Christ that once was slain, Ne’er burst His three-day prison, Our faith had been in vain: But now hath Christ arisen”: “if Christ be not risen…your faith is also vain…But now is Christ risen from the dead.” (1 Cor 15:14, 20)

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