This is our day to celebrate the greatest moment in Christian history: the moment when Christ rose again! Because He rose again, because of the faith of His disciples in the messages He preached to spread the truth of that resurrection, we are all given the gift of grace that, once accepted, ensures our own salvation.
I have concentrated my writing efforts in the realm of prose more often of late, but at the core of me is the heart of a poet and songwriter. One of the most stirring songs about the experience of the disciples in the days after the very worst day of their lives (the day when the One they thought would lead them to victory in a literally-earthly kingdom was instead humiliated and slaughtered right before their very eyes), tells the narrative of what it was like to discover that, rather than being defeated, Christ had indeed triumphed. The song is “He’s Alive,” by Don Francisco.
It begins right in the thick of things:
The gates and doors were barred
And all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin’ through
To drag us all away
Mary arrives to inform the disciples she has found an empty grave! Everyone runs to the cemetery to see for themselves. Back from the indeed empty tomb, Peter thinks about all of the things he has done to actually disappoint Jesus. But, just when Peter is at his lowest point, Christ arrives to literally raise Peter from his fetal position and show the apostle the absolute love that Christ feels for all of us, a love so grand that He was willing to die, suffer the ignominies of hell and fight His way back so that, through His sacrifice, we all might be saved.
If you want to read the full, stirring lyrics for yourself, please use the link below. (I don’t want to give them to you here and infringe on Mr. Francisco’s copyrights.)
If you want to hear a truly powerful performance of the song, I highly recommend Dolly Parton’s recording. It appeared in her “White Limousine” album. I never fail to listen to it without getting goosebumps by the end of the piece.
In 1980, Francisco received the Dove Award for “He’s Alive.” The website, Songfacts.com, explains:
Francisco’s original intention when writing the song was to tell it from the perspective of the Apostle Thomas. He planned to set it in the room where the disciples were when Jesus appeared to them and spoke to Thomas. However he couldn’t make it work, so he tried instead to do it from Peter’s perspective. By putting a lot of his deepest feelings into Peter’s experience he crafted a consummate telling of the Resurrection story, which ended up as his best known tune.
I do not come from a very emotive family. But we do know how to whoop it up for a great sports play, a patriotic movie ending, or a well-played fiddle tune. Today is the day to whoop it up for the greatest “play” of all. As Francisco puts it:
He’s alive yes He’s alive
Hallelujah He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive He’s alive He’s alive
I believe it He’s alive
Embrace the joy of His living today with no restraints. And if you truly believe it, live every day by putting proof to today’s celebrations. Love like you believe it. Remember that the love that “shone out from Him like sunlight in the skies” toward Peter in the song shines for you too. Do your best through the grace of God to shine that love on everyone you meet.
Yee-hah, He’ ALIVE!