A New Hymn: “By Raising Lazarus from the Dead”

Duccio's Raising of LazarusA few years ago, a parishioner of mine was baptized on the eve of Palm Sunday, the Saturday before Holy Week. Though I am a Lutheran pastor, I was raised Greek Orthodox, and so I continue to think of the eve of Palm Sunday as the “Saturday of Lazarus.” This fits with the record of St. John’s Gospel, which places the resurrection of Lazarus immediately before the triumphal entry. Indeed, according to St. John, the reason for the adulating crowds was the great miracle just performed in Bethany.

Our hymnals, however, lack any appropriate hymns for the resurrection of Lazarus. I therefore took the opportunity to write a hymn for the occasion. I drew the themes and most of the actual language from the Greek Orthodox Apolytikion and Kontakion for the Saturday of Lazarus, reproduced here courtesy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website:


By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your Passion, You confirmed the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with palms of victory, We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of Death; Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!


Christ—the Joy, the Truth, and the Light of All, the Life of the World and the Resurrection—has appeared in his goodness to those on earth. He has become the Image of our resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all.

My hymn is composed of three stanzas, the first and third based on the Apolytikion, the second on the Kontakion. It is rendered in the style of the Lutheran chorale, however, following the very common Reformation-era meter 8.7. 8.7. 8.8.7. The tune that I chose is “Es ist gewisslich,” which we associate most closely with the hymn of the Final Judgment, “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” itself based on the medieval hymn “Dies Irae.” Though it did not enter explicitly into my thinking, I suspect the connection of Lazarus’s resurrection to the general resurrection on the Last Day played at least subconsciously into my choice of tune.

Since this is a new composition and not a part of the genuine corpus of Lutheran chorales, I will not include it in the main website. It has been requested of me, however, that I make the hymn generally available, so I offer it here as a blog post. May the Lord Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life, be glorified thereby.

Tune: Es ist gewisslich

Download: For online viewing | For two-sided printing

  1. By raising Laz’rus from the dead
    Ere Thou began Thy Passion,
    Thou didst, O Lord, remove our dread
    Of death in glorious fashion,
    For in his life a glimpse we see
    Of wonders in eternity:
    All likewise shall awaken.

  2. Thou art, O Christ, the Life of all,
    Thou art the Resurrection.
    The blessèd dead shall heed Thy call
    And rise unto perfection.
    Thou who called Laz’rus from the grave
    Thyself didst rise, the world to save,
    Granting divine forgiveness.

  3. And so we raise victorious palms
    With praise none shall extinguish,
    And cry to Thee with hymns and psalms,
    Who death for us didst vanquish:
    “Hosanna in the highest heav’n!
    All blessing now to Him be giv’n
    Who in the Lord’s name cometh!”

Christopher J. Neuendorf, 2013

8 thoughts on “A New Hymn: “By Raising Lazarus from the Dead”

    1. Christopher Neuendorf Post author

      I’m afraid I wrote it in English, so if it is to be made available in German, someone more accomplished than I in German composition will have to do it.

      1. T.L.B.

        I, too, for now, shamefully, will leave it to another.

        The Savior was received by a cloud.

        “Received”: “came not to be served, but to serve.” [“As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” etc.]

        Und nicht lange en dem lande bleiben.


    1. Christopher Neuendorf Post author

      I thought about that after first writing the hymn, but decided to leave it as it is, since I have found precedents in other accepted hymn texts where modern verb forms are used with archaic pronouns. Mostly it just sounds okay to me. I was struck by the natural rhythm of the translated source material and wanted to preserve that in the hymn text. I have been wondering if there could be a grammatical explanation, too, since “ere Thou began” does not grate on my ears, though a grammatical explanation seems doubtful. For what it’s worth, nineteenth-century Scottish poet G. G. Richardson used the phrase in her Poems (1828), page 128: “The dying sage, leaning on destiny, / Hears in that hour a voice, believ’d of God, / ‘What if th’ eternity I trod / Silent and sole ere thou began to be / Lie hid–th’ eternity to come is waiting thee.'” (Thanks, Google.) If you come up with a more felicitous expression, though, I would certainly consider it.

      1. Christopher Neuendorf Post author

        Actually, a solution just occurred to me: “Ere Thy most bitter passion,” or something similar. I thought I remembered “before You began Your passion” from the Greek hymn, but it’s just “before Your passion.” I’ll think on it for a while before making the change.

  1. Jim Pepper

    I am really thankful that I found your new hymn while preparing for an Anglican Morning Prayer service for Lent 5… It certainly fits right in with what I needed!
    Thanks so much..


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