January 8th, 2015
John Mason Neale translated the hymn “The Day of Resurrection” by St. John of Damascus, an early Greek poet. Dr. Neale shared how the hymn is used by Greek Christians. As midnight draws near the archbishop and dignitaries take their places on the platform. The atmosphere is electric with anticipation. The priests continue chanting in low, melancholy half whispers. Suddenly, there is a cannon blast: Twelve o’clock. The celebrated “Day of Resurrection” has begun! The elderly archbishop lifts the cross with a loud triumphant cry, “Christos anesti!” Every person gathered takes up the cry, the mournful silence was broken: “Christ is risen!” The darkness that once laid like a shroud breaks with “a blaze of light from thousands of tapers which, communicating to one from another, seemed to send streams of fire in all directions.” Then the priests chant “forth the glorious old hymn of victory, . . . loud and clear to tell the world how ‘Christ is risen from the dead,’ having trampled death beneath His feet.”*
*Amos R. Wells, A Treasury of Hymn Stories: Brief Biographies of 120 Hymnwriters with Their Best Hymns, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992, 172-175.
Author: Paul Martin