Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain

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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.

Source: Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #199

Translator: J. M. Neale

Neale, John Mason, D.D., was born in Conduit Street, London, on Jan. 24, 1818. He inherited intellectual power on both sides: his father, the Rev. Cornelius Neale, having been Senior Wrangler, Second Chancellor's Medallist, and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and his mother being the daughter of John Mason Good, a man of considerable learning. Both father and mother are said to have been "very pronounced Evangelicals." The father died in 1823, and the boy's early training was entirely under the direction of his mother, his deep attachment for whom is shown by the fact that, not long before his death, he wrote of her as "a mother to whom I owe more than I can express." He was educated at Sherborne Grammar School, and was afterwards… Go to person page >

Author: St. John of Damascus

John of Damascus, St. The last but one of the Fathers of the Greek Church, and the greatest of her poets (Neale). He was of a good family in Damascus, and educated by the elder Cosmas in company with his foster-brother Cosmas the Melodist (q. v.). He held some office under the Caliph. He afterwards retired to the laura of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, along with his foster-brother. There he composed his theological works and his hymns. He was ordained priest of the church of Jerusalem late in life. He lived to extreme old age, dying on the 4th December, the day on which he is commemorated in the Greek calendar, either in his 84th or 100th year (circa 780). He was called, for some unknown reason, Mansur, by his enemies. His fame as a theologian… Go to person page >


Scripture References:
st. 1 = 1 Cor. 15:20-28
st. 2 = Matt. 28:1-9

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. (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 (see also 390). 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.

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.

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 (seen more clearly at 390). 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 (PHH 342) 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.

The three stanzas are taken from Neale's stanzas la and 3b (st. 1), his stanza 2 (st. 2), and a doxology from the 1868 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (st. 3).

Liturgical Use:
Easter season.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


Come, ye faithful, raise the strain, p. 87, i. The centos from this translation by Dr. Neale have undergone some alterations in recent collections. These include: (1) Church Hymns, 1903, where stanza i., line 8, reads "Thanks and praise " for "Laud and praise," &c.; and stanza iii., line 5, "Thou to-day, amidst Thine own," for "But to-day, amidst the twelve"; (2) Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1904, where the last stanza is entirely rewritten; and (3) The English Hymnal, 1906, in which Dr. Neale's text is faithfully followed. It will be noted that the texts of Church Hymns and Hymns Ancient & Modern are altered to bring the hymn in line with the fact that both Judas Iscariot and Thomas were absent on the first Easter night. Sacred history denies that "twelve" were present. For the original Greek text, see Moorsom's Historical Companion to Hymns Ancient & Modern 1903, p. 88.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)



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