Death held our Lord in prison
For sin that did undo us;
But he hath up arisen
And brought our life back to us.
Therefore must we gladsome be,
Praise our God, and thankful be,
And sing out halleluja! Halleluja!
No man yet Death overcame–
All sons of men were helpless;
Sin for this was all to blame,
For no one yet was guiltless.
So Death came that early hour,
Over us took up the power,
Us held in’s kingdom captive. Halleluja!
Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
Into our place descending,
Away with all our sins hath done,
And therewith from Death rending
Right and might, made him a jape,
Left him nothing but Death’s shape:
His ancient sting–he has lost it: Halleluja!
That was a right wondrous strife
When Death in Life’s grip wallowed:
Off victorious came Life,
Death he hath upswallowed.
Scripture itself has told us that–
How one Death the other ate:
Now is Death become a laughter. Halleluja!
[Footnote 3: Certain eastern tales of rival enchanters seem to have been present to Luther’s mind when he thought of our Lord as the Death of Evil devouring the Death of Good. I have translated very closely.]
Here is the true Easter-lamb,
That God said must be shared,
Which up on the cross’s stem
In Love’s fire is prepared.
His blood on our door-post lies;
Faith holds that before Death’s eyes:
The destroyer dares not touch us: Halleluja!
So we keep high feast of grace!
Hearty the joy and glee is
That shines on us from his face:
The sun himself, ah! he is,
Who, by his brightness divine,
Through and through makes our hearts shine:
The night of our sins is over. Halleluja!
We eat–and well so we fare–
True Easter cakes sans leaven;
For th’ old leaven shall not share
In the new word from heaven.
Christ himself will be the food,
He alone fill us with good:
Faith will live on nothing other. Halleluja!
II. A SONG OF PRAISE FOR EASTER.
Jesus Christ, our Saviour true
He who Death overthrew,
Is up arisen,
And sin hath put in prison.
Born whom Mary sinless hath,
Bore he for us God’s wrath,
Hath reconciled us:
Favour God doth now yield us.
Death and sin, and life and grace,
All to his hands we trace:
He can deliver
All who seek the life-giver.