THE DAY OF RESURRECTION
John of Damascus, early 8th century
English translation by John M. Neale, 1818–1866
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14 KJV)
This hymn from the early eighth century is one of the oldest expressions found in most hymnals. Its origin is rooted in the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church. It was written by one of the famous monks of that church, John of Damascus, c. 676–c. 780.
The celebration of Easter has always been a spectacle of ecclesiastical pomp in the Greek Orthodox Church. Even today, as a vital part of the ceremony, the worshipers bury a cross under the high altar on Good Friday and dramatically resurrect it with shouts of “Christos egerthe” (“Christ is risen”) on Easter Sunday. With this announcement begins a time of joyous celebration. Torches are lit, bells and trumpets peel, and salvos of cannons fill the air. The following account describes such a scene:
Everywhere men clasped each other’s hands, congratulated one another, and embraced with countenances beaming with delight, as though to each one separately some wonderful happiness had been proclaimed—and so in truth it was; and all the while rising above the mingling of many sounds, each one of which was a sound of gladness, the aged priests were distinctly heard chanting forth a glorious hymn of victory in tones so loud and clear, that they seemed to have regained the youth and strength to tell the world how “Christ is risen from the dead, having trampled death beneath His feet, and henceforth they that are in the tombs have everlasting life.”
John M. Neale is generally regarded as one of the leading translators of ancient hymns. He was recognized as one of the most learned hymnologists of his day and had a knowledge of twenty languages.
The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad—the Passover of gladness, the Passover of God! From death to life eternal, from this world to the sky, our Christ hath brought us over with hymns of victory!
Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright the Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light; and, list’ning to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain, His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.
Now let the heav’ns be joyful, let earth her song begin, let the round world keep triumph and all that is therein; let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend, for Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end!
For Today: Matthew 28:1–9; Acts 2:24; 13:29, 30; 1 Corinthians 15:54–58
Determine to make this Easter a spiritual highpoint celebration in your life and in the lives of your family members. Reflect on this portion of the hymn—
Osbeck, K. W.
- Now in the end of the Sabbath, when the first day of the week began to draw, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to see the sepulcher. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. And his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him, the keepers were astonied, and became as dead men. But the Angel answered, and said to the women, Fear ye not: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said: come, see the place where the Lord was laid. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead: and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee: there ye shall see him: lo, I have told you. So they departed quickly from the sepulcher, with fear and great joy, and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, God save you. And they came, and took him by the feet, and worshipped him. Matthew 28:1–9
- Whom God hath raised up, and loosed the sorrows of death, because it was impossible that he should be holden of it. Acts 2:24
- And when they had fulfilled all things that were written of him, they took him down from the tree, and put him in a sepulcher. But God raised him up from the dead. Acts 13:29-30
- So when this corruptible hath put on incorruption, and this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying, that is written, Death is swallowed up into victory. 1 Corinthians 15:54–58