Sounding ChildhoodMain Menu30 Selections from the Top Ranking Hymns for ChildrenAlphabetical Index of Hymn TitlesScoresRecordingsTimelineCreditsCredits, Permissions and CopyrightWorks CitedRehearsal VideosPart 2--Victorian Secular SongsAlisa Clapp-ItnyreAlisa Clapp-Itnyre ea81b58f96dc50ac6f0312cb8dfd4bbc7d5bfddcSOUNDING VICTORIAN Project 2016
Christ the Lord is risen today
12017-06-23T17:17:54+00:00Donal Hegartyd91ac6951fc09687a65f62d6a62eb9d3c37c260311Score from: The Methodist Sunday-School Hymn & Tune-Book. London: Wesleyan Methodist Sunday School Union, 1879. Print.plain2017-06-23T17:17:54+00:00Donal Hegartyd91ac6951fc09687a65f62d6a62eb9d3c37c2603
12017-06-23T17:51:24+00:00Christ the Lord is risen today4plain2017-07-13T14:06:57+00:00Charles Wesley wrote “Christ the Lord is risen to-day” in 1739 and published it Hymns and Sacred Poems, not, notably, his 1763 Hymns for Children and Others of Riper Years. Nonetheless, it was especially embraced by children’s hymn-book editors, found in 22% of children’s hymn books of the century. Charles Wesley’s text is majestic and appropriate for Easter morning as it reflects upon the resurrection of Christ (“once he died, our souls to save”), His triumph over death (“Where’s thy victory, boasting grave?”), and the human response (“Raise your joys and triumphs high / Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply”). Wesleyan doctrine prevails, doctrine that might be confusing, if not off-putting, to children: “Lo! The sun’s eclipse is o’er / Lo! He sets in blood no more!” (v. 2), dark allusions to Good Friday and the crucifixion. Consider, especially, verse 3, the first two lines not often found in late-twentieth-century hymnals: “Vain the stone, the watch, the seal,/Christ hath burst the gates of hell.” The explanation for the popularity among children of this complex hymn probably lies instead in its tune, “Easter Hymn,” equally exultant as the text, and popular enough to be found in 13 of 30 children’s tune books of the century. Misattributed to J. W. Worgan, Henry Carey, and even Handel (McCutchan 191), the tune first appeared in Lyra Davidica (1708) to “Jesus Christ is Risen today.” John Wesley then used it in setting his brother’s text “Christ the Lord is risen to-day” as published in his Foundery Collection (1742). Employing challenging melismas (a syllable set to multiple notes, typically five or more) in the triumphant “alleluias” after each verse, it is somewhat like a call and response. Significantly, the well-known, lush harmonization was given by Victorians, in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861), where it was used with “Jesus Christ is risen to-day.” Wrote turn-of-the-twentieth-century author James T. Lightwood, “there is probably no tune in Christendom so universally sung on any festal day as is the Easter hymn, with its rolling ‘Hallelujah,’ on Easter morning” (qtd. in McCutchan 191). It is highly probable that many Victorian children eagerly anticipated singing this yet-popular Easter favorite.