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Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

"Hail the Day" sings out its "alleluias" for Christ's triumphal entry into glory after he accomplished his saving work on earth (st. 1-2) and for Christ's work of interceding and preparing a place for his people (st. 3-4). The text concludes by hailing the great day when we shall rule with Christ (st. 5).
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Call to Worship

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
—Psalm 47:5-8, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus ascended in triumph,
raising our humanity to the heavenly throne.
All authority, glory, and sovereign power are given to him.
There he hears our prayers and pleads our cause before the Father.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Come, let us worship and bow down.
—from Our World Belongs to God, st. 27
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus Christ has come into heaven and is at God’s right hand—
with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him.
Since we have a great high priest who has gone into heaven—
Jesus, the Son of God—let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Let us praise his holy name!
Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!
Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power, and strength
be to our God forevermore!
Alleluia, Amen!
Alleluia!
—based on Hebrews 4:14; Revelation 5:10, 12
[Reformed Worship 23:41]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Lord God,
when we struggle to worship you as Lord,
show us again the beauty and power of your rule.
Teach us again that serving you is the path to true freedom.
May your Holy Spirit strengthen us today,
leading us to honor and worship you more deeply,
not only with the words we sing
but also with the lives we lead before your face,
through Jesus, our reigning Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
—Psalm 24:7-8, 10, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Assurance

Hear the good news of the gospel:
God, who is rich in mercy,
out of the great love with which he loved us
even when we were dead through our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ—
by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him and seated us with him
in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
so that in the ages to come he might show
the immeasurable riches of his grace
in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
In Christ, by God’s grace, we are saved.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!
—based on Ephesians 2:4-7, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Hear the good news of the gospel:
If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous;
and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
In Christ, we are forgiven! Thanks be to God.
—based on 1 John 2:1-2, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

We believe that we have no access to God
except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor:
“Jesus Christ the righteous,”
who therefore was made human,
uniting together the divine and human natures,
so that we human beings might have access to the divine majesty.
—from Belgic Confession, Art. 26
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Christ, while his disciples watched,
was taken up from the earth into heaven.
He remains there on our behalf until he comes again
to judge the living and the dead.
Christ is true human and true God.
In his human nature Christ is not now on earth;
but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit
he is never absent from us.
Christ is our advocate in heaven in the presence of his Father.
We have our own flesh in heaven
as a sure pledge that Christ our head
will also take us, his members, up to himself.
Christ sends his Spirit to us on earth as a corresponding pledge.
By the Spirit’s power we seek not earthly things
but the things above, where Christ is,
sitting at God’s right hand.
Christ is seated at the right hand of God
to show there that he is head of his church,
the one through whom the Father rules all things.
Through his Holy Spirit he pours out gifts
from heaven upon us his members,
and by his power he defends us and keeps us safe
from all enemies.
In all distress and persecution,
with uplifted head,
we confidently await the very judge
who has already offered himself to the judgment of God
in our place and removed the whole curse from us.
Christ will cast all his enemies and ours
into everlasting condemnation,
but will take all his chosen ones to himself
into the joy and glory of heaven.
—from Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A’s 46-47, 49-52
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Our ascended Lord gives hope for two ages.
In the age to come, Christ is the judge,
rejecting unrighteousness,
isolating God’s enemies to hell,
blessing the new creation in Christ.
In this age, the Holy Spirit is with us,
calling nations to follow God’s path,
uniting people through Christ in love.
—from Our Song of Hope, st. 5
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance:
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
There is one God; there is one mediator
between God and humankind, Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for all, to whom we testify.
Great indeed is the mystery of our religion:
He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.
—based on 1 Timothy 1:15; 2:5-6; 3:16, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Do not weep!
See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.
With his blood he has purchased people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
He has made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.
Thanks be to God!
—based on Revelation 5:5, 9-10, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Jesus Christ has been ordained by God the Father
and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit
to be our chief prophet and teacher
who fully reveals to us
the secret counsel and will of God concerning our deliverance;
our only high priest
who has delivered us by the one sacrifice of his body,
and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;
and our eternal king
who governs us by his Word and Spirit,
and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom he has won for us.
He ascended to heaven
to show there that he is head of his church,
the one through whom the Father rules all things.
In all distress and persecution,
with uplifted head,
we confidently await the very judge
who has already offered himself to the judgment of God
in our place and removed the whole curse from us.
Christ will cast all his enemies and ours
into everlasting condemnation,
but will take all his chosen ones to himself
into the joy and glory of heaven.
—from Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A’s 31, 50, 52
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Blessing/Benediction

Grace and peace to you
from him who is, and who was, and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,
the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—
to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
—Revelation 1:4-6, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

People of God, go now in peace, knowing that
if we suffer with Christ, we shall also rejoice with him;
if we die with Christ, we shall also rise with him.
Go in peace, letting your old self die with Christ,
and your new self, glorious with purpose and strength,
prepare for the great day of our ascended Lord’s return.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Additional Prayers

O God of all power and majesty,
you created the heavens and stretched them out.
You formed the earth and all that comes from it.
You give the breath of life to all who walk on the face of the earth.
Jesus, you conquered sin and death and now reign victorious.
You are Lord; glory is due your name.
The former things have come to pass;
we now await the new things you will bring through the Holy Spirit.
We rejoice to be gathered in your name.
Alleluia! Accept our praises and petitions. Amen.
[Reformed Worship 39:28]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Ascended Christ,
how grateful we are that you ever live to pray for us,
even now at God’s right hand.
We pray to you as Lord, and with you to the Father:
Hallowed be your name.
May your kingdom come.
May your will be done.
May all people have bread to nourish body and soul.
May your people walk in the way of forgiveness
and stand firm in the time of trial.
May you, with the Father and the Spirit, receive all the glory. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Tune Information

Name
LLANFAIR
Key
F Major or modal
Meter
7.4.7.4.7.4.7.4

Musical Suggestion

This powerful Ascension hymn written in 1739 has stood the test of time. Its author, gifted hymn writer Charles Wesley (1707-1788), wrote about nine thousand hymns, many of which are still sung today. Of the ten stanzas Wesley originally wrote for this hymn, only five appear in most hymnals today. The rising melody in the first half of each line leads beautifully into the Alleluia that ends it. I love hymns that have repetition—like the repeated Alleluias—because they allow even the very young to join in. Try singing this hymn antiphonally—one group sings the first half of each line and another group (or everyone) sings the Alleluias. This hymn includes much of what we celebrate at Ascension—Christ’s saving work on earth, his intercession for us, and his calling us to rule with him in eternity. “Hail the Day” can be used well in any worship service that emphasizes Christ’s rule.
 
Strong organ accompaniment with vigor and a lively tempo is good for singing this Welsh tune. If trumpets can be used with organ, that will surely add to the celebrative tone of the hymn. S. Drummond Wolff’s setting arranged for brass quartet and organ in Three Hymns of Praise for Eastertide (Concordia) makes a great conclusion to the prelude when this is the opening hymn of the service. Using the brass to also accompany the singing adds great festivity to the service.
 
Hermann Schroeder’s brief organ arrangement in The Parish Organist—Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity (Concordia) would also make an excellent ending to an organ prelude or postlude.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 51)
— Annetta Vander Lugt

Hymn Story/Background

Considered to be the most popular of all Ascension texts in English-language worship, "Hail the Day" was written by Charles Wesley in ten stanzas and published in his Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739). Thomas Cotterill altered the text and published his version in Selection of Psalms and Hymns (1820); the "alleluias" were added in George White's Hymns and Introits (1852). Included here with further alterations are original stanzas 1, 2, 4, 6, and 10.
 
"Hail the Day" sings out its "alleluias" for Christ's triumphal entry into glory after he accomplished his saving work on earth (st. 1-2) and for Christ's work of interceding and preparing a place for his people (st. 3-4). The text concludes by hailing the great day when we shall rule with Christ (st. 5).
LLANFAIR is usually attributed to Welsh singer Robert Williams, whose manuscript, dated July 14, 1817, included the tune. Williams lived on the island of Anglesey. A basket weaver with great innate musical ability, Williams, who was blind, could write out a tune after hearing it just once. He sang hymns at public occasions and was a composer of hymn tunes.
 
LLANFAIR was first published with a harmonization by John Roberts in John Parry's Peroriaeth Hyfryd (Sweet Music) (1837). The tune has been associated with the Wesley/Cotterill text since its publication with the text in The English Hymnal (1906). LLANFAIR is actually a common Welsh name, but some scholars believe that in this case the tune's name refers to the Montgomery County village in Wales where Williams was born.
 
A rounded bar form (AABA) tune, LLANFAIR features the common Welsh device of building a melody on the tones of the tonic triad. The tune is in a major key (not all Welsh tunes are in minor keys!). The melismas give fitting shape to the "alleluias." Use brisk accompaniment for this cheerful tune.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Several members of the Wesley family are significant figures in the history of English hymnody, and none more so than Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley (b. Epworth, Lincolnshire, England, 1707; d. Marylebone, London, England, 1788) was the eighteenth child of Samuel and Susanna Wesley, who educated him when he was young. After attending Westminster School, he studied at Christ Church College, Oxford. It was there that he and George Whitefield formed the Oxford "Holy Club," which Wesley's brother John soon joined. Their purpose was to study the Bible in a disciplined manner, to improve Christian worship and the celebration of the Lord's Supper, and to help the needy. Because of their methods for observing the Christian life, they earned the name “Methodists.”
 
Charles Wesley was ordained a minister in the Church of England in 1735 but found spiritual conditions in the church deplorable. Charles and John served briefly as missionaries to the British colony in Georgia. Enroute they came upon a group of Moravian missionaries, whose spirituality impressed the Wesleys. They returned to England, and, strongly influenced by the ministry of the Moravians, both Charles and John had conversion experiences in 1738 (see more on this below). The brothers began preaching at revival meetings, often outdoors. These meetings were pivotal in the mid-eighteenth-century "Great Awakening" in England.
 
Though neither Charles nor John Wesley ever left the Church of England them­selves, they are the founders of Methodism. Charles wrote some sixty-five hundred hymns, which were published in sixty-four volumes during his lifetime; these include Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1741), Hymns on the Lord's Supper ( 1745), Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1753), and Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (1780). Charles's hymns are famous for their frequent quotations and allusions from the Bible, for their creedal orthodoxy and their subjective expression of Christian living, and for their use of some forty-five different meters, which inspired new hymn tunes in England. Numerous hymn texts by Wesley are standard entries in most modern hymnals.
 
Thomas Cotterill (b. Cannock, Staffordshire, England, 1779; d. Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, 1823) studied at St. John's College, Cambridge, England, and became an Anglican clergyman. A central figure in the dispute about the propriety of singing hymns, Cotterill published a popular collection of hymns (including many of his own as well as alterations of other hymns), Selection of Psalms and Hymns in 1810. But when he tried to introduce a later edition of this book in Sheffield in 1819, his congregation protested. Many believed strongly that the Church of England should maintain its tradition of exclusive psalm singing. In a church court the Archbishop of York and Cotterill reached a compromise: the later edition of Selection was withdrawn, and Cotterill was invited to submit a new edition for the archbishop's approval. The new edition was published in 1820 and approved as the first hymnal for the Anglican church of that region. Cotterill's suppressed book, however, set the pattern for Anglican hymnals for the next generation, and many of its hymns are still found in modern hymnals.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Robert Williams (b. Mynydd Ithel, Anglesey, Wales, 1781; d. Mynydd Ithel, 1821) lived on the island of Anglesey. A basket weaver with great innate musical ability, Williams, who was blind, could write out a tune after hearing it just once. He sang hymns at public occasions and was a composer of hymn tunes.
— Bert Polman
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