Explore the many ways a favorite hymn can help us understand our faith.
By Kate Daneluk
Traditional hymns have stood the test of time and can communicate some of the best catechesis if we take the time to unpack them. The music makes them easy to remember and we have a reference for the rest of our lives to help us better understand our faith. Take some time with us here and in your classroom to explore the Hymn of the Month.
Jesus Christ is Risen Today!
Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heav’nly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
But the pains which He endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!
From Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns, partly new composed, partly translated from the High German and Latin Hymns; and set to easy and pleasant tunes. London: J. Walsh, 1708
Based on the lyrics of the Latin Hymn, Surrexit Christus Hodie, this hymn is more than just a celebration of Easter Sunday; it is also a reminder of the cost. Each verse of the Hymn extols the victory of Easter while remembering the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus. In this hymn, the battle for our souls is presented and Jesus is the ultimate victor at Easter. At first, it seems that the devil has won as Jesus is eliminated from the world, but the power of God cannot be vanquished by human death. By the very power of his love and sacrifice, He overcame the punishment for our sin through His Resurrection.
There is an important message here for us. As we struggle to find meaning in suffering, let us remember that Christ chose to redeem the world not only through the Glory of the Resurrection, but through the Sorrow of his suffering and death. The two are connected, just as in this hymn. And so, when we are faced with hardship, let us remember that in God, suffering can lead to glory beyond our imagination.
For the classroom:
Let Jesus Christ is Risen Today be your hymn of the month. Put the hymn on the bulletin board. Have a copy with the music for each student to keep in their desk or binders. Sing the hymn each day and spend some time breaking it down throughout the month with mini-lessons.
- Examine the lyrics: Take time to go through the lyrics and ensure that the students understand the meaning and vocabulary. This is a great opportunity to let the students share their reflections and share their faith.
- Scripture connection: Have the students look up and read the relevant scripture to the lyrics.
Luke 24:1-12, 34
Act 50: 30-31
- Language Arts: The poetry of the lyrics are an opportunity to review rhyme scheme, meter, stanza, and form.
- Learning about redemption: Ensure students understand the meaning of redemption, why it is necessary and how only Jesus truly had the power to achieve it for us.
- Learning about Theodicy: Theodicy is the study of explaining how a perfect and all powerful God can exist in a world filled with suffering. Jesus Christ is Risen Today illustrates the power of suffering and how God has allowed it and even embraced it so as to bring great glory to all. This is a very difficult and personal concept for many students and not something we will ever fully understand. But, seeing Christ walk the path of suffering does help many students better accept this difficult truth.
- Easter Story: Students can act out the Easter Story as depicted in the Gospels ending on a musical note with Jesus Christ is Risen Today.
- Literature Connection: In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lewis illustrates both the need for a perfect sacrifice as well as the power of God to triumph over sin, death, and the forces of hell. This book or movie could be a good way to help students better comprehend this part of our faith. Additionally, it is exceptional children’s literature.
- Learning about Alleluia: The word Alleluia is important and special to the worship of God. It is a word of triumph and of celebration. It holds special significance for Easter, especially because we abstain from the word Alleluia during Lent. Have students spend time learning about Alleluia, is etymology and significance in our church. There are many traditional and contemporary songs centered around this word and students could share these as part of this study. For more information:
Let your classroom, your home and your heart be a place of celebration and praise throughout this Easter season!
Kate Daneluk is a former Catholic school teacher, early childhood music teacher, creator of the Making Music, Praying Twice music curriculum, and a homeschooling mother of six.