The new Book of Praise (7)
Hy. 30–Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands
The new Book of Praise includes nineteen of the twenty-eight songs of the 2007 Augment. This little series of short articles consists of a brief introduction to each of these new hymns in the order in which they appear in our hymnary.
This hymn was written by Martin Luther and translated by Richard Massie. The text of the hymn underscores Christ's conquest of death, the breaking of Satan's power, and the victory over the rule of evil. There are allusions to the Passover–the blood of Christ now marks our door!–and a reference to the holy supper.
The tune is an adaptation of a medieval chant, “Victimae Paschali Laudes” (“Praise the Paschal Victim”– interestingly enough, Genevan Psalm 80 is based on the same chant). Many of the themes included in the ancient chant are taken up in this hymn. The arrangement is by Johann Walther, a collaborator of Martin Luther. Walther was one of the great early influences in Lutheran church music. This tune has a vigor and lightness appropriate to an Easter hymn. J.S. Bach incorporated it into several of his cantatas.
Sources: Psalter Hymnal Handbook; Internet