Originally titled ‘Hymn for Easter Day,’ Charles Wesley published the well loved anthem ‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today’ in 1739 – which was within the first year of his conversion. The song had its debut during the first worship service at the Wesleyan Chapel in London, England known as the Foundry Meeting House.
However, the original lines find their origin long before 1739. The inspiration for this hymn can be traced back to one written in Latin in the 14th century. In the early 1700s that song was translated into English and published as “Jesus Christ is Risen Today.” It was this short hymn that served as the building blocks for what would be adapted and expanded by Charles Wesley.
There have been some changes over the years, and the song you are most familiar with is likely different than Wesley’s original composition. Originally the song consisted of eleven stanzas, without the “Alleluias!” that echoes throughout the unfolding celebration of Christ’s Resurrection.
The original tune that Wesley used for it is also different than what you’re used to hearing. An unknown editor later changed the tune to accommodate the alleluias at the end of each line. Although many hymnals feature a much shorter version of this hymn – often just four stanzas – versions of this hymn have been enthusiastically sung in Easter services for over 280 years. May it continue to be a blessing to you and your church as you celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord every year on Easter Sunday!