Fiction or Fact from Bob’s Almanac


By Robert Mason Jr.

He is risen.

Like all good Methodists, I grew up hearing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” by Charles Wesley (1707-1788). To say I grew up singing it would be a stretch. I’m tonally challenged.

Like all good Methodists, I learned Charles Wesley was an early leader of the Methodist movement, known for writing more than 6,000 hymns. It wasn’t until much later I learned other congregations were singing his songs too. Alleluia!

In fact, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” might be the most popular Easter song ever. Wesley’s version was initially published as a “Hymn for Easter” in Hymns and Sacred Songs in 1739. While the popular version we sing is attributed to Wesley, it of course has been added to over the years. Alleluia!

Even the Methodists acknowledge Wesley’s version was based on the earlier “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” Alleluia!

Over 200 years after Wesley’s death, his name was added posthumously to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1995 by the Gospel Music Association. Alleluia!

Like all good Methodists, we need to re-examine the scripture connection for either, or both versions.

Mathew 28:5-8 reads “And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: 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 lay.

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.”

Now sing along:

“Christ the Lord is ris’n today, Alleluia!

Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!

Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!

Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!

Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!

Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Death in vain forbids his rise, Alleluia!

Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!

Foll’wing our exalted head, Alleluia!

Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!

Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!

Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!

Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!

Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!

Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!

Thee to know, thy pow’r to prove, Alleluia!

Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!”

He is risen indeed.