Sublime Ode to Christ’s Resurrection Day
The “Golden Canon”, a canon or hymn for Easter was penned by Greek, John of Damascus (8th century). This canon, like the others he made, had 9 “odes”, and “The Day of Resurrection is the first ode. Immediately in the first verse, John of Damascus makes a call to proclaim Christ’s resurrection to all the ends of the earth. During early times in Greece, Christ’s resurrection was celebrated on the eve of Easter with lighting of candles, cheerful singing and greetings, as if the church was too excited to celebrate Christ’s kingship on Easter itself. John of Damascus was a great Greek poet and Orthodox church priest who wrote the origin of “The Day of Resurrection”. The progeny hymn was an excerpt from a much longer poem by John of Damascus which was translated into English by the sacred poet, John Maison Neale (1862) and then published in Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862). In its published form, “The Day of Resurrection” has 3 stanzas and it’s sung on Easter or just about any Sunday. It’s one of the oldest hymns still being performed in the modern age and the general theme of Christ’s kingship is in all of the verses.
The 3 stanzas are set to the music of Henry Thomas Smart, dubbed “Lancashire”, originally created for the 1835 Missions Festival in Lancashire and the 300th anniversary of England’s formation. He then went on to publish it in Smart’s Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867). Later on, Neale’s verses for “The Day of Resurrection” were set to Smart’s tune. Its music meter is 18.104.22.168 D, played with a bold and rhythmic beat. It is played in the key C Major. The first and second stanzas have a static bass that transforms into an animated third stanza, making it easy to sing in harmony. The recommendation for voice is a harmonious choir throughout, or the choir of children leads the entire congregation.