Christ has arisen, alleluia.
Rejoice and praise him, alleluia.
For our redeemer burst from the tomb,
even from death, dispelling its gloom.
Let us sing praise to him with endless joy.
Death’s fearful sting he has come to destroy.
Our sin forgiving, alleluia!
Jesus is living, alleluia!
[Evangelical Lutheran Worship #364]
There are few hymns that make me want to clap my hands more than Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia! It is a traditional Tanzanian tune titled Mfurahini, Haleluya. The original text to the hymn was written by Bernard Kyamanyawa and the English translation by Howard S. Olson.
I actually first heard it sung as a gathering hymn at a funeral for the wife of a seminary professor some fifteen years ago and immediately fell in love with the melody. The feeling it evokes within me is one of sheer joy, unlike any other piece of music that I love – and I love music.
We sang it at the Easter Vigil I attended this year. This is one of my favorite liturgies of the year. I remember with fondness the Easter Vigils at Sunrise which I had the privilege of leading in my previous parish for the past five years (see photo above).
The fact that for the first time in years I had no role in this liturgy other than to worship was an experience in itself. I was free to take in the sights and sounds and actually hear and meditate on the readings. I paid special attention to words and phrases with a heightened awareness to things I hadn’t noticed before. It was a pleasantly strange and fabulously liberating occasion.
But when it came to this hymn, I had to restrain myself to keep from clapping in rhythm. What intrigued me most was that I realized I had never heard the hymn in its original Swahili language. Driven by curiosity, I came home and found it on YouTube and I share it with you here. Listen, enjoy, and may the blessings of Easter fill you with joy and hope.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!