Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (v. 55)

Here is a joyful invitation to celebrate the good news of the Christmas gospel. “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” is another of the many hymns we owe to the linguistic and poetic gifts of John Mason Neale, a scholarly Anglican minister of the 19th century who translated numerous ancient hymns from Latin and German. In this instance, he translated “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” from both Latin and German, because each line had a phrase written in each language. Originally titled “In Dulci Jubilo,” this medieval carol was used to teach the peasants (who could follow the German parts) what the priests (who chanted the Latin parts) were telling them on Christmas.

One 14th-century writer said that the angels sang “In Dulci Jubilo” while they danced on Christmas. I like the idea; it’s a rollicking tune. The climax of the carol comes in the last stanza, when we sing about why Christmas can help us dance even in the face of death. Good Christian friends, rejoice / with heart and soul and voice; / now ye need not fear the grave: / Jesus Christ was born to save! / Calls you one and calls you all, / To gain his everlasting hall. / Christ was born to save, / Christ was born to save!

Now that Jesus has come, death is a general whose army has been defeated. It’s a scorpion that has lost its stinger. It’s still ugly and mean, but it can’t keep us from him.

As you pray, thank God and rejoice in Jesus, who gives you the victory.

Listen along: Good Christian Friends, Rejoice! – Reawaken Hymns

About the Author

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.

This entry is part 20 of 25 in the series Carols and Lessons