Mfurahini, haleluya (Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia)

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Easter hymns accomplish three functions: they recount the Easter narrative, proclaim our Easter hope, and celebrate our joy at Christ’s resurrection. This hymn is built on the professions of Easter truths that are expressed primarily in Heidelberg Catechism. Note especially the following:
  • Lord’s Day 17, Question and Answer 45 declares that Christ’s resurrection makes us share in Christ’s righteousness, raises us to a new life by his power, and is a sure pledge to us of our resurrection.
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 57 comforts us to know that not only our soul but “also my very flesh will be raised by the power of God, reunited with my soul, and made like Christ’s glorious body.”
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 58 says that it may be a comfort to know that while experiencing the beginning of eternal joy now, “after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.”
In addition, Our Song of Hope, stanza 5 professes: “On the day of the resurrection, the tomb was empty; His disciples saw Him; death was defeated; new life had come. God’s purpose for the world was sealed.”

Tune Information

F Major or modal
9.9.9 refrain


Musical Suggestion

Coming to us from Tanzania, via the Lutheran Church, this has become a favorite Easter song in part through recordings by St. Olaf and other choirs. Don’t be lulled into a slow tempo by the four-part harmonies and ¾ meter. This should move along at a lively tempo with one pulse per measure and 4—or even 8—measures per phrase/breath. The song works perfectly well with energetic a cappella singing, but can also be accompanied by djembes, bells and shakers. Shape the narrative text by giving the angels’ proclamation in verse 3 to the men and the woman’s testimony in verse 4 to the women. 

— Greg Scheer

Hymn Story/Background

“Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” comes to us from African Lutheranism.

Bernard Kyamanywa wrote the original Swahili text while he was in seminary in Tanzania in 1966. He wrote it in a very African style, envisioning a story-teller and congregation responding; the story-teller presents the simple story of the Easter Gospel, and the congregation responds with the refrain, although it can be sung in unison.

Author Information

Howard Olson (b. 1922; d. 2010), longtime missionary/teacher in African, compiled a number of African songs in Set Free (Augsburg Fortress, 1993). Many were folk tunes to which Christian Swahili texts were later added. He wrote in the introduction: “In their original form these tunes wee sung with uninhibited improvisation. Consequently the form in which these songs appear in this book represents only one of several possibilities.”  

Bernhard Kyamanywa (b. 1938) was an orphan and was taken in by the Bethel Mission and raised by a German deaconess. He first became a teacher, but in 1968, started working as a Lutheran pastor in Tanzania. The song’s lively melody is also from Tanzania.
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.