"GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE AND SING"
"With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection…" (Acts 4.33)
INTRO.: A hymn which sets forth the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is "Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing." The text was written by Cyril Argentine Alington, who was born on Oct. 22, 1872, in Ipswich, Suffolk, England, the son of Henry Giles Alington, an Anglican minister, and Jane Margaret Booth Alington. Educated at Marlborough School, Wiltshire, England, and at Trinity College, Oxford University, he likewise became a minister in 1901. After serving as a Fellow of All Soul’s College at Oxford, he was a teacher at Eton College in Berkshire between 1899 and 1908. In 1904, he married Hester Margaret Lyttelton, and they had three children, Giles, Elizabeth, and Joan. From 1908 to 1916, Alington served as headmaster at Shrewsbury School in Shropshire. After receiving the Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford in 1917, he was headmaster at Eton from 1917 to 1933. Produced during this time, his hymn "Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing" was first published in the 1931 Songs of Praise. Between 1933 and 1951, Alington held the office of Dean of Durham, graduating from Durham Univeristy in 1937 with the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws. The author of several hymns, essays, novels, and theological works, he died at Treago near St. Leonards in Heresfordshire, England, on May 16, 1955.
Alington intended "Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing" to be set to a tune (Gelobt Sei Gott) attributed to Melchior Vulpius, taken from Vulpius’s 1609 Ein schon geistlich Gesanbuch, and in most books the hymn is used with this melody. However, in the only one of our books to include the hymn, that tune is used with Francis Potts’s translation of the Latin hymn "The Strife Is O’er." Alington’s hymn is set to a tune (Victory or Palestrina) composed by the Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). It is taken from the opening phrases of the "Gloria Patri et Filio" in his Magnificat Tertii Toni of 1591 and is most often used today with "The Strife Is O’er." The modern arrangement was made by William Henry Monk (1823-1889). It was done for The Parish Choir of 1851 and altered by the arranger for the original musical edition of the 1861 Hymns Ancient and Modern. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. The Palestrina/Monk tune with the hymn "The Strife Is O’er" was used in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) edited by E. L. Jorgenson and is found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann.
The hymn focuses our attention on the joy that came to mankind because of Jesus’s resurrection.
I. Stanza 1 speaks of triumph
"Good Christian men, rejoice and sing!
Now is the triumph of our King!
To all the world glad news we bring: Alleluia!"
A. Because Jesus was raised from the dead, those who are in Christ can rejoice: Phil. 4.4
B. The triumph of our King is the victory of Jesus Christ over death through His resurrection: Rom. 1.3-4
C. Therefore, those who preach the gospel of peace bring glad tidings of good things: Rom. 10.15
II. Stanza 2 speaks of rejoicing
"The Lord of Life is risen for aye;
Bring flowers of song to strew His way.
Let all mankind rejoice and say: Alleluia!"
A. The good news is that the Lord of Life is risen forever: 2 Tim. 2.8
B. We can bring flowers of song to strew His way as the people strewed branches on His way at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem: Matt. 21.8-9
C. As a result of the great joy that the resurrection of Christ brings, all mankind can sing alleluia: Rev. 19.1
III. Stanza 3 speaks of praise
"Praise we in songs of victory
That Love, that Life which cannot die,
And sing with hearts uplifted high: Alleluia!"
A. Because of His resurrection, Jesus Christ deserves our praise: Heb. 13.15
B. His is the Life which cannot die because He ever lives to make intercession for us: Heb. 7.25
C. In praising Him, we sing with hearts uplifted high: Col. 3.16
IV. Stanza 4 speaks of singing
"Thy name we bless, O risen Lord,
And sing today with one accord
The Life laid down, the Life restored: Alleluia!"
A. We bless the name of the risen Lord because salvation is in His name: Acts 4.12
B. One way we bless His name is by singing with one accord: Eph. 5.19
C. He is worthy of such blessing and singing because His is the life laid down and restored: Rev. 1.18
CONCL.: Many books conclude with a three phrase chorus that simply repeats the last word of each stanza:
"Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!"
A lot of modern books update the pronouns ("Your name" instead of "Thy name"), and some even bow to the radical feminism that is taking over many churches by changing the first line to read "Good Christians, All, Rejoice and Sing," and the second stanza to read "Let every tongue rejoice," in order to eliminate the words "men" and "man." Of course, reasonable people understand that in all languages, the masculine form of many words is used generically without reference to gender, so that singing about "men" is not intended to exclude women but rather is intended to be inclusive of all mankind. We even refer to humankind as "man" as opposed to animals. With this in mind, as we remember the resurrection of our Lord, we can without hesitation say, "Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing."
Copyright information: GOOD CHRISTIAN MEN, REJOICE AND SING. Words: Cyril A. Alington. Words © 1958, Ren. 1986 Hymns Ancient & Modern (admin. Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188). All rights reserved. Used by permission. To obtain permission to reproduce this hymn, visit http://www.hopepublishing.com .