Study for Today. Love’s Redeeming Work is Done.

As we continue in the Easter Season, our friend Grant has put pen to paper again and has shared this piece with us. Where would we be without the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on that first Easter Day.

Love’s Redeeming Work is Done

The original words, having been translated into English from Latin, were first published in a book called Lyra Davidica in 1708 and then verses added in a publication of 1779 and again in 1816. These verses were taken up by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) and have then found their way into most hymn books from the late 19th century to modern times. 

Charles Wesley kept on writing more and more verses for the same tune and in the same metre even if he thereby created another whole hymn. Yet his hymn entitled ‘Christ the Lord is risen today’ begins like others in the same vein and so our hymn for this week actually begins with Wesley’s second verse.

Love’s redeeming work is done;

fought the fight, the battle won:

Lo, our Sun’s eclipse is o’er,

Lo, he sets in blood no more.

There’s that concept of Redemption again. For the time being we can just accept it to mean ‘Salvation’. The battle is that of Christ against ‘sin, the world and the devil’ argued about by St Paul in his Letters. In the Old Testament the prophecy of Malachi 4 refers to the ‘sun of righteousness’ and the Early Church soon saw that as Christ – hence what could have been thought of as ‘the Sun’s eclipse’ i.e Jesus’ Death is no longer applicable. Nor is the same picture of the setting sun.

Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;

Christ has burst the gates of hell;

death in vain forbids him rise;

Christ has opened paradise.

Joseph of Arimathea had provided the tomb for Jesus’ body and a large stone to be rolled against its entrance. Pontius Pilate allowed an accompanying band of soldiers to guard against any who might have wanted to steal Jesus’ body. Furthermore a seal was placed on the stone. (Matthew 27:65,66) Nevertheless none of these precautions stopped Jesus’ Resurrection; they were all in vain. The result of the Resurrection was that Christ had opened the way into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9:12) or Heaven, or, in this understanding, Paradise.

Lives again our glorious King;

where, O death, is now thy sting?

Dying once, he all doth save;

where thy victory, O grave?

This verse refers to the wonderful section in St Paul’s First Letter to the Church in Corinth where he explains the significance of the Resurrection. Chapter 15 is rather long but at its conclusion Paul brings to mind the prophecies of Hosea in the Old Testament 13:14 whereby God would bring about salvation even beyond Sheol, the place of the dead within Judaism and the grave and therefore death itself. Paul sees this being fulfilled in the Resurrection of Christ. 1Corinthians 15:54,55.

Charles Wesley knew the Scriptures and the 4th verse sees the Ascension of Christ giving humanity the ability to ‘soar with’ him. This verse takes us on the same journey which Christ has taken. We are now able to experience all that Christ has achieved. What a future? The hymn is no longer just a statement about Jesus’ Resurrection (and Ascension), it involves you and me too.

Soar we now where Christ has led,

foll’wing our exalted Head;

made like him, like him we rise;

ours the cross, the grave, the skies.

Hail the Lord of earth and heav’n!

praise to thee by both be giv’n;

Thee we greet triumphant now;

hail, the Resurrection thou!

The last verse is an ascription of praise to Jesus Christ as Lord of earth and heaven by which we all can praise him and hail the Resurrection itself. 

Wesley finished his hymn with this verse which was later omitted from most hymn books. It ably rounds off the Easter theme of Love giving of himself so that we, too, may also love one another.

King of glory! Soul of bliss!

everlasting life is this,

Thee to know, thy power to prove,

thus to sing, and thus to love.

So whether we sing ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’ or the Wesley version beginning with the second verse i.e. ‘Love’s redeeming work is done’, we can, I hope, understand that the results of the Resurrection are indeed for all of us and for all time.

Grant Brockhouse 

Thank you for that piece Grant, I’m sure we can all ponder over this and reflect on the enormous grace that we have received in that Resurrection, which as you so rightly say is for all of us, for all time. Alleluia.


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