"LIFT UP, LIFT UP YOUR VOICES NOW"
"And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them…" (Col. 2:15)
INTRO.: A hymn which praises Christ for the triumph which Christ had in spoiling the principalities and powers by His resurrection from the dead is "Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now." The text is usually attributed to John Mason Neale, who was born on Jan. 24, 1818, near St. Paul’s Cathedral at Bloomsbury in London, England, to evangelical parents and named for his maternal grandfather John Mason Good. Cornelius Neale, his father who was a minister and fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge, died when John was five years old, and the boy was brought solely by his mother. Attending Sherborne Grammar School, he was then tutored privately until 1836, when he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won the Seatonian Prize for sacred poetry eleven times. After graduating in 1840, he served as a fellow, chaplain, and tutor at Downing College, becoming identified with the Oxford Movement and founding the Cambridge Camden Society. In 1842, he married the daughter of an evangelical minister, and that year he became a minister, but after he had served six weeks with a small church at Crawley in Sussex, chronic lung disease and his strong Anglo-Catholic leanings kept him from active service.
Spending three winters in Madeira, Portugal, for his health, Neale produced three books of original poetry, Hymns for Children in 1842, Hymns for the Sick in 1843, and Hymns for the Young in 1844. In 1846 he returned to England and was offered a position at St. Ninian’s in Perth, Scotland, but refused because of the climate and became warden of Sackville College in East Grinstead, a home for elderly indigent men. Shortly afterwards, he began work on the five volume History of the Holy Eastern Church, which was finished in 1873. However, he is best known as a one of the most important translators of Greek and Latin hymns. Besides researching and writing, he also founded a nursing sisterhood, promoted social welfare, and expanded the ministry of Sackville to orphans and young women. His primary publications include Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences in 1851, Hymns of the Eastern Church in 1862, Hymns Chiefly Mediaeval on the Joys and Glories of Paradise in 1865, and Original Sequences, Hymns, and Other Ecclesiastical Verses in 1866. Both The Hymnal Noted and Hymns Ancient and Modern contain many of his original hymns as well as translations, which include "All Glory, Laud, and Honor," "Good Christian Men, Rejoice," "The Day of Resurrection," "Jerusalem, the Golden," "Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid?", and "Brief Life Is Here Our Portion."
Also, Neale wrote the well known holiday carol, "Good King Wenceslaus." He died, aged 48, at East Grinstead in Sussex, England, on Aug. 6, 1866. Because of Neale’s translating work, some books say, "Greek Translation by John M. Neale, 1854," but "Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now" is now considered an anonymous cento from several sources. The first stanza is taken directly from Neale’s "The foe behind, the deep before," published in his 1854 Carols for Eastertide. Other stanzas are taken from his translation of the Latin hymn "En dies est dominca" and from Mrs. Elizabeth Charles’s 1858 translation of the Latin hymn "Aurora licis." The song as it appears today was published in The Church Hymnal of 1892 edited by Charles L. Hutchins. All books that I checked use a tune (Waltham, Camden, or Calkin) composed in 1872 by John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905). However, it is found in most of our books with George Washington Doane’s hymn "Fling Out the Banner, Let It Float," for which the composer intended it. Calkin composed another tune (Sefton), also dated 1872, which fits "Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now" perfectly. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared, with the Waltham tune, in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today it may be found, again with the Waltham tune, in the 1986 Great Songs Revised edited by Forrest M. McCann.
The song encourages us to give praise to the Lord for the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
I. Stanza 1 tells us to lift up our voices to Christ who reigns
"Lift up, lift up your voices now; The whole wide world rejoices now.
The Lord hath triumphed gloriously, The Lord shall reign victoriously."
A. We should lift up our voices even as we lift up our heads to see the King of glory: Ps. 24:7
B. This King, our Lord, has triumphed gloriously over death just as He did over the Egyptians: Exo. 15:1
C. And having triumphed, our Lord shall reign forever and ever: Rev. 11:15
II. Stanza 2 tells us that Christ triumphed over the grave
"In vain with stone the cave they barred; In vain the watch kept ward and guard.
Majestic from the spoiled tomb, In pomp of triumph Christ is come."
A. His enemies sealed the tomb: Matt. 27:62-66
B. However, their guard could not prevent the resurrection of Christ: Matt. 28:1-4
C. Thus, Jesus rose early on the first day of the week: Mk. 16:9
III. Stanza 3 tells us that Christ binds the ancient foe
"He binds in chains the ancient foe; A countless host He frees from woe.
And heaven’s high portal open flies, For Christ has risen, and man shall rise."
A. By His resurrection, He bound in chains the ancient foe: Matt. 12:29
B. In so doing, He freed a countless host by the truth: Jn. 8:31-32
C. Because Christ has risen, man shall rise: 1 Cor. 15:20-22
IV. Stanza 4 tells us that Christ has won so that man can win
"And all He did, and all He bare, He gives us as our own to share;
And hope and joy and peace begin, For Christ has won, and man shall win."
A. In His death, Christ bore our sins: 1 Pet. 2:24
B. But by His death and resurrection He gives us hope: 1 Pet. 1:3
C. Therefore, because He has won, we can gain the victory: 1 Cor. 15:54-57
V. Stanza 5 tells us that Christ is the Victor who will lead us through death
"O Victor, aid us in the fight, And lead through death to realms of light;
We safely pass where Thou hast trod. In Thee we die to rise to God."
A. As Victor, Christ can aid us in fighting the good fight of the faith: 1 Tim. 6:12
B. He can lead us through death to realms of light because He Himself has trod that path: Phil. 2:5-8
C. Therefore, in Him after death we have the hope of rising to God: Rom. 8:11
VI. Stanza 6 tells us that Christ is worthy of our alleluias
"Thy flock, from sin and death set free, Glad alleluias raise to Thee;
And ever with the heavenly host Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
A. Christ’s flock consists of those who have been set free from sin and death: Rom. 8:1-2
B. Therefore, His flock should raise glad alleluias to Him: Rev. 19:1
C. In so doing, we praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Matt. 28:19
CONCL.: John Julian called this hymn "a mosaic made up of fragments of…hymns, pieced together without any regard to the continuity of the originals" (p. 1664). That may be, but it certainly has a joyful message that is well brought out by Calkin’s melody. The death of Christ procured our salvation from sin and justification before God. Yet, His death would mean little without the resurrection by which He gives us the hope of our own future resurrection and a home with God in heaven. As we think about this great event, we should exhort each other to "Lift Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now."