Thine be the glory
Risen conquering Son
Endless is the victory
Thou o'er death hast won!
Augustine famously said that those who sing pray twice. Of course at the moment we cannot sing, at least not in public. And so this Easter day we will not be singing the great Easter hymn “Thine be the glory.”
There isn’t room to print the hymn in full - but do have a read of it this Easter. It is a hymn, and therefore a prayer, of triumph - but not of triumphalism. It reminds us that the glory and the victory that we celebrate at Easter belong to Christ - not to us and not to the Church!
It also reminds us that Jesus’ Easter victory is not just a fact from the ancient past, it is not just history (although it is history); Jesus’ victory is ‘endless.’ It is for all times and for all people. It is for us and for this generation.
As I write this reflection for our April magazine, we are all too aware that the Covid 19 pandemic has claimed over 126,000 lives in England alone. We know that the global figure is measured in millions. Most of us know someone whose life was claimed by the pandemic.
Here in 2021 death seems very powerful. It seems to reign supreme. And yet, if Christ is risen then death, though still a powerful enemy of life, is ultimately defeated - once and for all.
Throughout history plagues and wars claimed the lives of many innocent people, our experiences in the past year are not new or unique. And we can face it with the same faith that Christians have had for the past two thousand years.
The great English poet John Donne wrote his ‘Holy Sonnet’ for Easter after he had, miraculously recovered from an illness that threatened to take his life. And in this sonnet, in the light of Easter and the hope of Christ, Donne puts death in its place:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
In 2021 as we have every other year, we will greet one another on Easter morning with words of joy and hope in the victory of Christ:
“Alleluia, Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”