He's Risen, He's Risen

He's Risen, He's Risen!

Hymn of the Month for April 

This Pastor's Pen article continues Pastor Cowell's "Hymn of the Month" series in which he shares a brief commentary on the theology and history behind some of the hymns we enjoy singing from the Lutheran Service Book.  The full text of the hymn is included at the bottom of the post.  
Bottom Left portion of the Weimar Altarpiece (1555), Lucas Cranach the Elder and Lucas Cranach the Younger. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.
The text and tune of our “hymn of the month” for the month of April, He's Risen, He's Risen, Christ Jesus, the Lord (LSB 480), is composed by the first president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm (C.F.W.) Walther.  Walther composed He’s Risen, He’s Risen on Easter Sunday, April 8, 1860.

We have in this Easter hymn a skillful blending of praise and doctrine, which is typical of the life and works of President Walther.  The Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns describes translator Anna M. Meyer’s translation of Walther's original eleven-stanza German hymn as “quite loose (p. 386).”  Nevertheless, Mrs. Meyer still communicates well the original message of Walther’s German text, which the LSB: Companion to the Hymns describes in this way:
The hymn emphasizes the conflict between the hellish host and the incarnate Word. Walther’s text speaks especially of Christ’s descent into hell and the comfort this brings to believers: “He opened death’s prison”; “death, hell, and Satan He vanquished”; “The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high.” (p. 384)

Throughout the hymn, Walther confesses and praises several dimensions of the atonement of Jesus for us.  
  • We sing of Christ who died as our substitute in stanza 2: 
    • “The Lord of creation was nailed to the tree.; […] Jesus was slain, whom the evil ones fear.”

  • We sing of Christ the Victor in stanza 3: 
    • “...death, hell, and Satan He vanquished, His foes.; The conquering Lord lifts His banner on high.”

  • We sing of Christ the propitiation for our sins in stanza 4: 
    • “For all our transgressions His blood does atone; Redeemed and forgiven, we now are His own.”

In terms of references to Scripture, the narrative of the death and resurrection of our Lord is, obviously, the main subject of the hymn.  The hymn also references and briefly quotes words from 1 Corinthians 15, as many Easter hymns do.  We can especially hear in stanza 4 the final verses of 1 Cor. 15:
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. - 1 Cor. 15:54-57

God be with you as you rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord with the help of our April hymn of the month!

Used in this devotion is content from Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Hymns, Vol. 1 (CPH: 2019), p. 384-386.
He's Risen, He's Risen          LSB 480

Tune: Public domain
Text: © 1941 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission.
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Thomas Cowell