The Strife Is O'er - Anonymous (translated by Francis Pott)

This joyful hymn celebrates the battle that was won by Christ’s resurrection. The words first appeared anonymously in a Latin hymnal published in Germany in 1695, but some hymnologists believe the hymn to have been written much earlier. The famous British translator of Latin and Greek hymnody, John Mason Neale, published the Latin text with his English translation in 1851. Ten years later, Francis Pott provided his own translation, which has been used in most hymnals since that time. Pott was educated at Oxford University and served as a pastor for twenty-five years. After his early retirement due to deafness, he spent his time researching and translating early hymnody.

The tune of this hymn has contributed much to its popularity. This tune, known as “Victory,” was adapted by British composer William H. Monk from choral music written in 1591 by the prolific Italian Renaissance composer Giovanni Palestrina. Monk was the music editor for “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” which is one of the most important hymnals ever published. Monk was also the choir director and organist at King’s College in London.

The “Alleluias” that begin and end the hymn celebrate Christ’s victory. Each stanza follows a similar pattern: the beginning proclaims an aspect of Christ’s triumph over death, and then the believer’s response is expressed that includes a triumphant “Alleluia,” a Latin form of the Hebrew “Hallelujah,” which means “Praise the Lord!” In his book, “The Gospel in Hymns,” Albert Bailey writes, “The words present the theological statement that the Crucifixion was a contest between Christ and the devil’s legions, in which Christ won. This is proved by the fact that Christ did not stay dead.”  Though this hymn is usually sung as a Resurrection hymn, it expresses the joy of Christ’s victory and is appropriate for any Sunday. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).


Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
The strife is o’er, the battle done!
The victory of life is won!
The song of triumph has begun!
The pow’rs of death have done their worst,
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shout of holy joy outburst!
The three sad days have quickly sped,
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head!
He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heav’n’s high portals fell,
Let hymns of praise his triumph tell!
LORD, by the stripes which wounded thee,
From death’s dread sting thy servants free,
That we may live and sing to thee!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


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