Summary: One of the most popular Easter Hymns ever written based on the gospel accounts and so brings out the real meaning of Christ's glorious resurrection - a joy to sing and full of meaning.
Thine be the glory
Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son is one of the best Easter hymns that we have and I have some very happy memories of singing it.
I remember singing it at All Saints church Rhiwbina one Easter when we had a set of drums accompanying the organ and it was fantastic!
The hymn has strong theology based on the gospel accounts of the resurrection; the first line being about the risen Lord which was foretold in the OT.
The hymn perfectly displays the glory and brilliance of Christ’s resurrection and tells us to dispel our doubt.
Verse 2 talks about death losing its sting and is based on 1 Cor 15:55 and the last verse is talking about Thomas who doubted and perhaps represents many of us asking hard questions.
Thomas who wants proof and gets it, with Jesus telling him to stop doubting and believe.
The hymn writer is convinced, as Thomas was, “No more we doubt thee”; God will bring us through our own times, through our trials and difficulties, through our Jordan, to be with him in his promised land.
The refrain is the central message of the Christian faith: ’risen conquering son, endless is the victory thou o’er death has won.’
One of the reasons for this hymn's popularity is its rousing tune, not only drums but you can imagine a triumphant refrain after each verse with trumpets.
And it’s so easy to learn and sing as we repeat the first two lines after each verse.
The catchy hymn tune was pinched from someone else, and without the composer's permission.
The words were written 200 years after Handel's birth and he wrote the music for his oratorio Judas Maccabeaus.
The words of the hymn, although originally in French, were written by a Swiss hymn writer, Raymond Budry and he wrote the hymn in 1884 after his first wife died.
The words of the hymn describe the events of Easter Day, the words initially sung directly to Jesus:
THINE be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.
We praise Jesus for His victory over death that the raising of 'thy body' has won, but then in Vs.2 we sing not to Jesus but to each other as we describe Christ's resurrection from the grave.
Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting
In this 2nd verse, we are greeted by our risen Lord, who has defeated our last enemy death by His glorious resurrection.
Death has now lost its sting and we are released to sing God's praises, released from life’s fear and gloom.
In Vs.3 we again address Jesus directly, as we acknowledge his great triumph and ask for His continual blessing on our lives here and hereafter.
No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life;
life is naught without thee: aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors through thy deathless love;
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above
The River Jordan is mentioned as the crossing place to the promised land, in the same way that it is in the hymn 'Guide me, O Thou great redeemer' or the hymn 'When I tread the verge of Jordan. ..land me safe on Canaan's side'.
For the Israelites in the wilderness, the River Jordan was a boundary, and although Moses himself never crossed it, the Israelites did eventually cross into Canaan, where they settled.
In Christian hymns, the OT account is used to describe the modern journey towards heaven, so the idea of being brought 'safe through Jordan' is a reference to death and judgement.
The message of this hymn is all about Jesus having broken down the barriers of sin that separate us from God, thereby enabling us to pass over the spiritual Jordan into the promised land of heaven.
Handel's tune gives the hymn an appropriate confidence, even though it was not written with these words in mind.
It was originally written for his oratorio based on the life of Judas Maccabeus, who was a war hero of the Jews, the account being found in the Apocrypha - 1 & 2 Maccabees.
The chorus 'See the conquering hero' was the big hit, of which MACCABAEUS was the tune.
Handel was never very enthusiastic about this oratorio, but it was popular, particularly among the Jewish community of London, who were delighted at Handel's glorious portrayal of the Maccabees' rebellion.
The battle theme is embedded in this hymn, whether it is the Jewish battles of the past in Judas Maccabeus or the battle over sin won by Christ on the cross and His rising from the tomb.