Singing Christ’s glorious pilgrimage

Between the Easter breakfast (which I’m still digesting…) and the start of the 11 am service, I found myself flicking through a copy of Don Carson’s For the Love of God, his two-volume series of devotionals based on the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan.

Looking for something Easter-related, I turned to his entry for Luke 24, which turned out to consist of the following poem/hymn, to be sung to the Londonderry Air (I’ve anglicised the spellings):

They came alone: some women who remembered him,
Bowed down with spices to anoint his corpse.
Through darkened streets, they wept their way to honour him–
The one whose death had shattered all their hopes.
“Why do you look for life among the sepulchres?
He is not here. He’s risen, as he said.
Remember how he told you while in Galilee:
The Son of Man will die–and rise up from the dead.”

The two walked home, a study in defeat and loss,
Explaining to a stranger why the gloom–
How Jesus seemed to be the King before his cross,
How all their hopes lay buried in his tomb.
“How slow you are to see Christ’s glorious pilgrimage
Ran through the cross”–and then he broke the bread.
Their eyes were opened, and they grasped the Scripture’s truth:
The man who taught them had arisen from the dead.

He was a sceptic: not for him that easy faith
That swaps the truth for sentimental sigh.
Unless he saw the nail marks in his hands himself,
And touched his side, he’d not believe the lie.
Then Jesus came, although the doors were shut and locked.
“Repent of doubt, and reach into my side;
Trace out the wounds that nails left in my broken hands.
And understand that I who speaks to you once died.”

Long years have passed, and still we face the fear of death,
Which steals our loved ones, leaving us undone,
And still confronts us, beckoning with icy breath,
The final terror when life’s course is run.
But this I know: the Saviour passed this way before,
His body clothed in immortality.
The sting’s been drawn: the power of sin has been destroyed.
We sing: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

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