One of my favorite Easter hymns is “He Is Risen” written by Cecil Frances (“Fanny”) Alexander (1818-1895). From a very early age Fanny loved to write poems. She was near-sighted, timid and shy. At the tender age of nine her father noticed a lump under the rug in Fanny’s bedroom. Lifting the rug, he discovered a hidden stack of papers with carefully handwritten poems. Fanny was embarrassed and afraid her father would be critical. But, being a kind and wise father, he recognized an opportunity to build his child’s confidence. He took a large wooden box and cut a slot in the top. He instructed Fanny that each time she wrote a poem, she should drop it into the box through the slot. On Sunday evenings her father would open the box and read each new poem aloud, while members of the family gathered to listen, and made helpful and encouraging comments. Fanny’s confidence was nurtured, and talent thrived!
By the age of 25 Fanny’s poetry would be known and quoted throughout the British Empire. During her lifetime Fanny authored nearly 400 poems. Several were set to music and have become timeless treasures. Her “Hymns for Little Children,” published in 1848, was Fanny’s most popular work. Three from this collection are included in the LDS Hymnal, and one is in the Children’s Songbook. I love every one of these!
- He is Risen – 199
- All Things Bright and Beautiful – Children’s Hymns
- Once in Royal David’s City – 205
- There is a Green Hill Far Away – 194
He is Risen was set to a tune by Joachim Neander (1650-1680), the first important hymn-writer of the German Reformed Church. Neander is most famous for his hymn Praise To The Lord, The Almighty (another Latter-day Saint and Mormon Tabernacle Choir favorite).
As a little trivia, there are three General Conference Talks with the title “He Is Risen.”
President Monson specifically quoted Fanny Alexander’s inspired poem:
My beloved brothers and sisters, in our hour of deepest sorrow, we can receive profound peace from the words of the angel that first Easter morning: “He is not here: for he is risen.” (Matt. 28:6)
~He is risen! He is risen!Tell it out with joyful voice.He has burst his three days’ prison;Let the whole wide earth rejoice.Death is conquered; man is free.Christ has won the victory!~As one of His special witnesses on earth today, this glorious Easter Sunday, I declare that this is true.– Thomas S. Monson, He Is Risen, April 2010
In the Spring of 2014 The Mormon Tabernacle Choir released a popular CD with the title song “He Is Risen”. Today I’m sharing the video of that recording, with full lyrics below. The second verse is one of my favorites, with its beautiful imagery of Christ gloriously rising like the morning sun, Breaking o’er the purple east, Symbol of our Easter feast.
Happy Easter! – MoSop
He Is Risen
He Is Risen – Lyrics
He is risen! He is risen!Tell it out with joyful voice.He has burst his three days’ prison;Let the whole wide earth rejoice.Death is conquered; man is free.Christ has won the victory.
Come with high and holy hymning;Chant our Lord’s triumphant lay.Not one darksome cloud is dimmingYonder glorious morning ray,Breaking o’er the purple east,Symbol of our Easter feast.
He is risen! He is risen!He hath opened heaven’s gate.We are free from sin’s dark prison,Risen to a holier state.And a brighter Easter beamOn our longing eyes shall stream.