Is this for me, this shattering news?

*** Unconventional in that it does not begin by proclaiming Resurrection triumph, this hymn for Easter Day is based on  Peter’s sermon in the house of CORNELIUS (Acts 10.34-43). It presupposes that the singing worshipper is part of Peter’s congregation, and is enabled, through Peter’s preaching, to hear the gospel, as though for the first time, as new ‘Good News’.

If a band accompanies this hymn, it would be good to introduce more instruments as the singing builds.


As a hymn for Easter Day this piece may be thought eccentric, for most Easter hymns proclaim the resurrection right from the start. But this hymn begins with me talking to myself.

The reason is that the Scripture on which the hymn is based is a sermon, and I who hear that sermon read need to decide how I shall respond to it. Where most Easter hymns assume that the singer has already responded with enthusiasm to the apostle Peter’s preaching, this hymn offers a space in which listeners may each weigh up what they have heard. The listener who is agnostic, or simply uncommitted, may be glad to have that space. But it can be useful to provide the same opportunity for Christian believers of long standing.

Verses one and two have the listener reviewing what the preacher has said (always a good thing to do!). In verse three I acknowledge that the preaching was more than the mere listing of formulae of Christian belief: in the mouth and in (so far as I can tell) the life of this preacher, the resurrection of Christ sounds like fresh news. I have the sense that it is now, dynamically present, and that I am indeed involved in the way it works out from this moment on. Realizing this is the turning point in my ruminations.

In verses four and five I have made my choice, and I want to ‘lift my voice’ to ‘join the rising throng of those who greet this glorious day’. The word ‘extemporising‘ means that all of us who share in ‘love’s high song’ contribute our own distinctive ideas and tones to the one central uniting theme. Whilst celebrating unity in Christ, the line implies in passing that attempts to make believers worship uniformly are misplaced.

By verse six the detached ‘I’ is fully involved in a full-blown corporate roaring of Easter jubilation.

The music is named in honour of the centurion Cornelius, in whose house Peter preached the sermon from which this hymn is derived.

The accompaniment is intentionally underscored, so that local worshippers can write notes and parts for whatever instruments may be available. Whilst a church organ would certainly be adequate, a rhythm section could probably provide a more suitable accompaniment. The dotted crotchets in the bass line should (except where indicated) be played as detached chords.