199

Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

Full Text

1 Come, you faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness!
God has brought forth Israel
into joy from sadness,
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke
Jacob’s sons and daughters;
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

2 ’Tis the spring of souls today:
Christ has burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death
as a sun has risen.
All the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying
from the Light to whom we give
laud and praise undying.

3 Neither could the gates of death,
nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal,
hold you as a mortal:
but today, among your own,
you appear, bestowing
your deep peace, which ever more
passes human knowing.

4 Alleluia! Now we cry
to our Lord immortal,
who, triumphant, burst the bars
of the tomb’s dark portal;
Alleluia! With the Son,
God the Father praising;
Alleluia! Yet a gain
to the Spirit raising.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Written around 750 and inspired by the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, this text is John's first ode from the canon for the Sunday after Easter.
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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.”
199

Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

Words of Praise

Glory to you, O God:
On this day you won victory over death,
raising Jesus from the grave
and giving us eternal life.
Glory to you, O Christ:
For us and for our salvation you overcame death
and opened the gate to everlasting life.
Glory to you, O Holy Spirit:
You lead us into the truth.
Glory to you, O blessed Trinity,
now and forever. Amen.
[BCW-1946, pg 304, alt., PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ,
fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives,
forgiving sinners,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified,
suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raised Jesus from the dead,
vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil,
delivering us from death to life eternal.
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
—from A Brief Statement of Faith
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Blessing/Benediction

Now to the King eternal,
immortal, invisible, the only God,
be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
—1 Timothy 1:17, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Go forth in joy to love and serve God in all that you do.
We are sent in the name of the risen Christ.
Let us bless our Lord.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia!
May the God of peace,
who raised to life the great shepherd of the sheep,
make us ready to do his will in every good thing,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Alleluia! Amen.
—based on Hebrews 13:20-21
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
199

Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain

Hymn Story/Background

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. (A canon is a form of Greek hymnody based on biblical canticles consisting of nine odes, each with six to nine stanzas.) His "Golden Canon" is the source of Easter hymns. Written around 750 and inspired by the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, this text is John's first ode from the canon for the Sunday after Easter.
 
All canons in the Greek church demonstrated how Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in Christ's resurrection. The first ode of each canon was based on the Passover event and on Exodus 15 as the metaphor for Christ's delivery of his people from the slavery of sin and death. That metaphor lies behind stanza 1. Stanza 2 uses images of spring and sunshine as metaphors for the new life and light of Christ. Stanza 3 concludes the text with an Easter doxology.
 
John M. Neale translated the text in his article on Greek hymnology in the Christian Remembrancer (April, 1859) and reprinted it in his Hymns of the Eastern Church in 1862. It was included in the 1868 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (st. 3).
 
Better known as an operatic composer than a hymn-tune composer, Arthur S. Sullivan composed ST. KEVIN for this text. Named by Sullivan after a seventh-century Irish monk, the tune was published in Joseph Barnaby's Hymnary (1872) as well as in Sullivan's Church Hymns with Tunes (1874).
 
For the sake of the text, sing and play in four long lines rather than eight choppy ones. Sing stanzas 1 and 2 in harmony and stanza 3 in unison.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Eighth-century Greek poet John of Damascus (b. Damascus, c. 675; d. St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, c. 754) is especially known for his writing of six canons for the major festivals of the church year. John's father, a Christian, was an important official at the court of the Muslim caliph in Damascus. After his father's death, John assumed that position and lived in wealth and honor. At about the age of forty, however, he became dissatisfied with his life, gave away his possessions, freed his slaves, and entered the monastery of St. Sabas in the desert near Jerusalem. One of the last of the Greek fathers, John became a great theologian in the Eastern church. He defended the church's use of icons, codified the practices of Byzantine chant, and wrote about science, philosophy, and theology.
 
 
— Bert Polman

Working from the Latin text, John Mason Neale (b. London, England, 1818; d. East Grinstead, Sussex, England, 1866) prepared a translation and published it as a six-stanza hymn in his The Hymnal Noted (1854). He retained the refrain "Evermore and evermore," an eleventh-century addition to the original Latin text.
 
Neale's life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly tem­perament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackville College in East Grinstead, a retirement home for poor men. There he served the men faithfully and expanded Sackville's ministry to indigent women and orphans. He also founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret, which became one of the finest English training orders for nurses.
 
Laboring in relative obscurity, Neale turned out a prodigious number of books and articles on liturgy and church history, including A History of the So-Called Jansenist Church of Holland (1858); an account of the Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht and its break from Rome in the 1700s; and his scholarly Essays on Liturgiology and Church History 1863). Neale contributed to church music by writing original hymns, including two volumes of Hymns for Children (1842, 1846), but especially by translating Greek and Latin hymns into English. These translations appeared in Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1851, 1863, 1867), The Hymnal Noted (1852, 1854), Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862), and Hymns Chiefly Medieval (1865). Because a number of Neale's translations were judged unsingable, editors usually amended his work, as evident already in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modem; Neale claimed no rights to his texts and was pleased that his translations could contribute to hymnody as the "common property of Christendom."
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b Lambeth, London. England. 1842; d. Westminster, London, 1900) was born of an Italian mother and an Irish father who was an army band­master and a professor of music. Sullivan entered the Chapel Royal as a chorister in 1854. He was elected as the first Mendelssohn scholar in 1856, when he began his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory (1858-1861) and in 1866 was appointed professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Early in his career Sullivan composed oratorios and music for some Shakespeare plays. However, he is best known for writing the music for lyrics by William S. Gilbert, which produced popular operettas such as H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), The Mikado (1884), and Yeomen of the Guard (1888). These operettas satirized the court and everyday life in Victorian times. Although he com­posed some anthems, in the area of church music Sullivan is best remembered for his hymn tunes, written between 1867 and 1874 and published in The Hymnary (1872) and Church Hymns (1874), both of which he edited. He contributed hymns to A Hymnal Chiefly from The Book of Praise (1867) and to the Presbyterian collection Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867). A complete collection of his hymns and arrangements was published posthumously as Hymn Tunes by Arthur Sullivan (1902). Sullivan steadfastly refused to grant permission to those who wished to make hymn tunes from the popular melodies in his operettas.
— Bert Polman
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