The Story Behind the Hymn: Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain
John of Damascus wrote the Green Resurrection hymn “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain.” The translated text by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) first appeared in April 1859 in an article on Greek Hymnody in Christian Remembrance. It then appeared in 1862 in hymns of the Eastern Church in four stanzas.
The Scriptural basis of the song is Exodus 15 where “The Song of Moses” can be found. The hymn is the first ode from the Canon for St. Thomas’s Sunday, the Sunday after Easter or Low Sunday and it can be sung during that day.
John of Damascus was born at the end of the 17th century and lived well into the 8th century. It was around 730 when he retired to the monastery of St. Sabas as a priest and gave away everything that he had. John then wrote works containing justification for the orthodox of faith, including his Foundation of Knowledge. He was one of the greatest and most important of the Greek hymn-writers. John introduced a new form of hymnody during his time for special festivals. He called it canons and it’s usually sung during the monastic office of Lauds and based primarily on nine Canticles. Canons are typically divided into nine odes. Each ode is composed of short dramatic strophes where the climax occurs in the last line. Each line and syllable of strophes has to have the same number.
“Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain” sings about deliverance. Stanza one contains the joy of the Israelites after being delivered from Pharaoh across the Red Sea. The focus was transferred to Jesus on the next three stanzas. The said stanzas talked about the deliverance brought to humankind from their sins through Jesus’ resurrection. The hymn is a song of praise to God for continuing to deliver His people throughout history.