Hymns & Songs

The day Death died

Apr 2018    

On the first Easter morning, Jesus tasted death for us and triumphed over it. Paul said, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-55)

Jesus Christ, the “risen conquering Son”, has granted us victory over the grave through His resurrection. Death, our greatest enemy, has been defeated, and now through our Lord Jesus Christ, eternal life can be our experience.

‘Thine Be the Glory’, a traditional Easter hymn, was originally written in French by the Rev Edmond L. Budry in 1884, which he titled as ‘A Toi la Gloire’1. At 35 years old, the Rev Budry, a pastor in Verney, Switzerland, composed this well-loved hymn after the death of his first wife, Marie de Vayenborg. The French hymn in its original form was published in the YMCA hymn book, Lausanne, in 1904.

Nearly 40 years later, ‘A Toi la Gloire’ was translated into English by Richard Birch Holye, a Baptist minister in 1923.2 A man of considerable scholarship and who was conversant with 12 languages, the Rev Hoyle was commissioned to translate the hymn by the World Student Christian Federation, which later retained the copyright on his English translation.

The three stanzas of this wonderful hymn convey the resurrection narratives in the Gospels. Stanza 1 narrates the part when “the angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away” (ref Matthew 28:2). Stanza 2 puts us in the shoes of the disciples who met with the risen Christ: “Lo! Jesus meets [us]… lovingly He greets [us]” (ref Matthew 28:9).

Death is then described as the Jordan River in stanza 3, where the believers, with doubts dispelled, ask the “Prince of Life” to “aid us in our strife” and to “bring us safe through Jordan to [His] home above”.

As we live in great expectation of the triumphant promise of the joy we will one day experience with all fullness, when we will share in the heavenly celebration with all the saints, let us continue to raise our voices in praise of our victorious Lord!

Thine Be the Glory (The United Methodist Hymnal, #308)

  1. Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
    endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.
    Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
    kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.Refrain:
    Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son;
    endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won.
  2. Lo! Jesus meets thee, risen from the tomb;
    lovingly He greets thee, scatters fear and gloom.
    Let the church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
    for our Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting. [Refrain]
  3. No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life!
    Life is naught without thee; aid us in our strife.
    Make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love;
    bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above. [Refrain]

Words: Edmond L. Budry, 1904; trans. by Richard Birch Holye 1923
Music: Harmonia Sacra, ca. 1753; arr. from G. F. Handel, 1747

 

1 Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich: Kregel Publications, 1990), 145.

2 Frank Colquhoun, A Hymn Companion: Insight into Three Hundred Christian Hymns (Wilton: Morehouse Barlow, 1985), 98.

Dr Yeo Teck Beng –
is a member of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.

Picture by gracel/Bigstock.com

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