Thought for the Week – Thine be the Glory – Caro Staton

Music is so evocative isn’t it.  A melody can move us emotionally in a powerful way, and words often enhance the emotional impact of the song. Music also evokes memories as we associate certain songs or tunes with particular times in our lives.

One of the hymns often sung at Easter is Thine be the Glory. Musically it is glorious and triumphant, and somewhat martial. Handel wrote it in 1746 as part of the oratorio “Judas Maccabeus”, which was about a Jewish war hero. It was over 100 years after Handel wrote the music that the Swiss Protestant minister, Edmond Budry, wrote words to this tune as a declaration of faith. Richard Hoyle then translated in this to the hymn we know today in 1923. It may seem strange that a song extolling the virtues of a conquering hero has now become an Easter Hymn, but if we think about it, Christ is our conquering hero and we see Him victorious at Easter.

Thine be the glory, risen conqu’ring son;
endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave clothes where Thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen conqu’ring son;
endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.

Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly He greets us, scatters fear and gloom.
Let His church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing,
For the Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.
Thine be the glory, risen conqu’ring son;
endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.

No more we doubt Thee, glorious Prince of Life!
Life is nought without Thee; aid us in our strife;
Make us more than conqu’rors, through Thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan to Thy home above.
Thine be the glory, risen conqu’ring son;
endless is the vict’ry Thou o’er death hast won.

The hymn perfectly displays the glory and brilliance of Christ’s resurrection and tells us to dispel our doubt. It tells the story of the first Easter and puts us in the place of the disciples with the risen Christ meeting us in verse 2. Can you imagine being there in the garden and the joy of meeting Jesus three days after he died (Matt 28:9)? How amazing that would have been – no wonder the hymn talks of singing songs of gladness and triumph!

Similarly, in verse 3 it talks about Thomas who doubted and perhaps represents many of us who are currently asking hard questions about our faith. As the hymn writer reflects on the resurrection so he is convinced, as Thomas was, “No more we doubt thee”. It is a declaration that God will bring us through our own trials and difficulties, to be with Him in his promised land.

For me, this hymn reminds me of singing loudly and triumphantly at Easter every year with my Mum and my Gran in the church pews beside me. It also reminds me of singing to the best of my ability with tears streaming down my face at my Gran’s funeral, sad that I am missing her, but filled with hope & faith that she is safe with Jesus and I will see her one day.

I cannot end this without mentioning the refrain “Thine be the glory, Risen conquering Son; Endless is the victory, Thou o’er death hast won!” This is such a triumphant declaration of the central message of the Christian faith. It is repeated four times during the hymn, with the final time almost becoming a shout of victory. This is Christ’s victory for us! His triumph over sin, fear and death.

He will help us through this time, there is hope, and we should not doubt him. To Him be the glory!  Amen.

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