“Jesus Lives, and So Shall I”

"O Death, where is thy sting?" (1 Cor. 15.55)

     INTRO.: A song which reminds us that the sting of death has been eliminated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ is "Jesus Lives, and So Shall I." The text was written by Christian Furchtegott Gellert, who was born on July 4, 1715, at Hainichen near Frieberg in Saxony, Germany, the son of a Lutheran minister. After attending the Furstenschule at Meissen beginning in 1729, he entered the University of Lepizig in 1734 as a theology student, and after completing his studies served as an assistant with his father for some time. However, because of his poor memory resulting from physical and emotional weakness, he felt that he was unsuited to be a minister, so in 1739 he became a private domestic tutor to the sons of Herr von Luttichau near Dresden. In 1741 he returned to Leipzig to supervise the education of a nephew at the university, then resumed his own studies there and graduated with an M. A. in 1744. The following year, he became a private tutor or lecturer in the philosophy faculty. His literary work included the organization of the "Leipziger Dichterbund," a group of poets that published the Bremische Beitrage, and he contributed several comedies and a novel to this publication in 1745 and 1746.

     Beginning Gellert 1746 he began producing a book of popular Tales and Fables which was finished in 1748 and went through many printings and translations; this won him acclaim as a German classicist. In 1751, the year in which he apparently produced this hymn, he was appointed extraordinary professor of philosophy to lecture on poetry, rhetoric, and moral philosophy. His students, who included Goethe and Lessing, revered and loved him. A collection of 54 of his own hymns, Getistlichen Oden und Lieder (Spiritual Odes and Songs), including this one, was published in 1757 and became immediately successful. However, he refused a regular professorship in 1761 because he did not feel strong enough for the post, and he died on Dec. 13, 1769, at Leipzig. The English translation used in most of our books was made by John Dunmore Lang (1799-1878). It was completed aboard the prison ship Medway while he was on his way back to Australia from his second trip to England and published at Sydney, Australia, in his 1826 Aurora Australis. Another rather well-known translation was made by Frances Elizabeth Cox (1812-1897). It was first published in her 1841 Sacred Hymns from the German.

     The American arrangement of Lang’s translation, perhaps using some of Cox’s phraseology as well, was apparently done by Philip Schaff (1819-1893). It was first published in Henry Ward Beecher’s 1855 Plymouth Collection. The tune (Jesus Meine Zuversicht, Zuversicht, or Ratisbon) is usually attributed to Johann Cruger (1598-1662). It appeared anonymously in his 1653 Praxis Pietatis Melica. Some have thought that it was by Luise Henriette of Brandenburg (1627-1667). However, there is scant evidence for this. In the 1668 edition, the initials "J. C." (for Cruger) are used with it. It may have been based on an older melody that Cruger adapted or it may be an original work of his. The modern harmonization was made for the concluding part of the cantata So du mit deinem Munde bekennst by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). 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. Today it may be found in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann.

     The song emphasizes the blessings that come to us because Jesus arose from the dead.

I. Stanza 1 affirms that Christ’s resurrection takes away the sting of death
"Jesus lives, and so shall I. Death! thy sting is gone forever!
He, who deigned for me to die, Lives the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me with the just: Jesus is my Hope and Trust."
 A. Jesus has promised that because He lives, so shall we: Jn. 14.19
 B. It was by His own death that Jesus conquered the devil who had the power of death: Heb. 2.14-15
 C. Thus, we have the hope that He shall raise us with the just: 1 Thess. 4.14-17

II. Stanza 2 affirms that Christ’s resurrection extends grace to mankind
"Jesus lives, and God extends Grace to each returning sinner.
Rebels He receives as friends, And exalts to highest honor.
God is true as He is just: Jesus is my Hope and Trust."
 A. When we return to Christ in faith, we can be saved by grace: Eph. 2.8-9
 B. The reason for this is that Christ died for us when we were still rebels or sinners: Rom. 5.8
 C. Therefore, in making these provisions, He is both just and the justifier of those who have faith: Rom. 3.23-26

III. Stanza 3 affirms that Christ’s resurrection enabled Him to be King of God’s kingdom
"Jesus lives and reigns supreme; And, His kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with Him, Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised; be it must: Jesus is my Hope and Trust."
 A. Jesus reigns because He established His church which is the kingdom of God on earth: Matt. 16.18-19
 B. Those who are His people have the hope of reigning with Him, both now and in eternity: Rev. 3.21, 22.5
 C. This is a promise that God has made, and God always keeps His promises: Heb. 6.13-18

IV. Stanza 4 affirms that Christ’s resurrection gives us victory over sin
"Jesus lives, and by His grace Victory o’er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways, Ever in His glory living.
Raising all the weak from dust: Jesus is my Hope and Trust."
 A. Faith in Jesus who raised from the dead is the victory over the world: 1 Jn. 5.4
 B. It is by His power that we can cleanse our heart and ways: 2 Cor. 7.1
 C. Thus, we have not only the hope of a future resurrection from the dead, but even now a spiritual resurrection to newness of life: Rom. 6.3-5

V .Stanza 5 affirms that Christ’s resurrection is God’s guarantee of His protection over us
"Jesus lives, I know full well Naught from Him my heart can sever,
Life nor death nor powers of hell, Joy nor grief henceforth forever.
None of all His saints is lost: Jesus is my Hope and Trust."
 A. The Bible teaches that nothing can sever or separate the faithful Christian from Christ’s love: Rom. 8.38-39
 B. This is true of life, death, powers of hell, joy, and grief because we can be kept through faith by the power of God: 1 Pet. 1.3-5
 C. Christ has said that none of His true saints, those who hear His voice and follow Him, shall be lost: Jn. 10.27-29

VI. Stanza 6 affirms that Christ’s resurrection provides us an entrance into glory
"Jesus lives, and death is now But my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou Hast a crown of life before thee.
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just: Jesus is the Christian’s Trust."
 A. As a result of Christ’s resurrection, death is no longer an enemy of which we must be afraid but it is merely the entrance into something better: Rev. 14.13 (for reasons unknown, Great Songs Revised alters the first line from "is now" which rhymes with "for thou" to "becomes")
 B. Therefore, the faithful child of God can expect to receive the crown of life: Rev. 2.10
 C. Because of the resurrection of Christ, we can have solid confidence in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promises: Tit. 1.1-2 (again, Great Songs Revised inexplicably alters the last line from "Jesus is the Christian’s trust" to match the last line of the other stanzas and read, "Jesus in my Hope and Trust")

     CONCL.: Sometimes many modern people think that these older hymns have no meaning for believers today, so now we have misnamed "praise songs" many of which have an ounce of scripture and a pound of emotion.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with expressions of worship in song using contemporary language and style, but since truth is timeless we ought not to think that hymwriters of former days have nothing to say to us. As I grow older and realize more and more from experience that "the outward man perishes," it is good to remember that "Jesus Lives, And So Shall I."


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