I appreciate both contemporary and traditional styles of worship music but hymns hold a special place in my heart. As a child I was delighted on Sunday mornings to open my church’s gold-coloured hymnal with a cross stamped on the cover.
Enthusiastic voices would fill the sanctuary. All generations sang out, unified in fellowship. Sunday’s were an opportunity to soak in the meaning of the words in each verse.
I recall one particular Easter hymn. The upbeat tone and triumphant lyrics reveal who Christ is and what He’s accomplished for me. Although it’s been years since I’ve picked up a hymnal, I still appreciate the revelations of Christ encouraged by songs like Christ the Lord is Risen Today:
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 your sting? Alleluia!
Dying once, He all doth save. Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!
The lyrics teach of Christ’s resurrection and triumph over death—truth straight from the Bible.
When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:10–11)
The song urges me to celebrate with loud praises of joy. “Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply,” gives a heavenly perspective of the joint effort of angels, man, and all creation offering praise. The Hebrew word “Hallelujah” translates to mean “boast in Yahweh.” Through a personal relationship with Him and knowledge of what He accomplished for me, I can say with confidence, “Where thy victory, O grave?”
Although emotion in worship is necessary, I’m challenged to praise God beyond my feelings. Worship is not exclusively an emotional experience. In his Bible study guide, Flying Closer to the Flame, Chuck Swindoll reminds me, “True praise is not lip service; it is much more profound than that. It comes from deep within our hearts, from our innermost being.” Chuck emphasizes true praise encompasses our whole self: mind, heart, and soul.
My worship glorifies God when my focus shifts away from me to who He is and what He’s done. By meditating on what hymns teach me about God, I’m led to greater knowledge and appreciation of Him. In this case, of the hope of salvation and forgiveness of my sins by Christ’s death and resurrection: Easter.
1. The Gospel Trumpet Company, Hymnal of the Church of God, 1953 (68).