Music: Lancashire Henry T. Smart, 1836 (🔊 pdf nwc). Smart wrote this tune for a music festival in Blackburn, Lancashire, England, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Reformation in England.
Neale described how early Greek Christians sang this hymn:
As midnight approached, the archbishop, with his priests, accompanied by the king and queen, left the church and stationed themselves on the platform, which was raised considerably from the ground, so that they were distinctly seen by the people. Everyone now remained in breathless expectation, holding an unlighted taper in readiness when the glad moment should arrive, while the priests still continued murmuring their melancholy chant in a low half whisper.
Suddenly a single report of a cannon announced that twelve o’clock had struck and that Easter Day had begun; then the old archbishop, elevating the cross, exclaimed in a loud, exulting tone,Christos aneste!Christ is risen!And instantly every single individual of all that host took up the cry…At that same moment the oppressive darkness was succeeded by a blaze of light from thousands of tapers which…seemed to send streams of fire in all directions.
The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over, with hymns of victory.
Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light;
And listening to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain,
All hail! and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.
Now let the heavens be joyful! Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.