The hymn "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" is based on the ancient hymn, "Christ Is Arisen," the oldest Christian Easter hymn in existence, dating from the 1100s. It underscores the truth that Jesus' Resurrection from the dead is the cornerstone of our Christian faith and hope.
This Easter hymn by Luther is considered next in importance to "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." In stanza 2, Luther writes about life and death's struggle. And then as Christ rises in victory over death, death is swallowed up, and its sting is lost forever. Luther concludes his Easter hymn with a grand verse of joyous Easter praise.
Martin Luther wrote "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands" in the year 1524. The years 1523 and 1524 were very busy for Luther. During these two years, Luther wrote two-thirds of his 37 hymns.
—Pastor Gordon Waterman
1. Christ Jesus lay in death's strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God's right hand He stands
And brings us life from heaven;
Therefore let us joyful be
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of hallelujah. Hallelujah!
2. It was a strange and dreadful strife
When Life and Death contended;
The victory remained with Life,
The reign of Death was ended;
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That Death is swallowed up by Death,
His sting is lost forever. Hallelujah!
3. Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree -
So strong His love! - to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, Death passes o'er,
Ans Satan cannot harm us. Hallelujah!
4. So let us keep the festival
Whereto the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the Joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended. Hallelujah!
5. The let us feast this Easter Day
On Christ, the Bread of heaven;
The Word of Grace hath purged away
The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed,
He is our meat and drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other. Hallelujah!
By Martin Luther, 1524
Based on Acts 2:24