Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice (A Reformation Hymn)
The hymn “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice” (Nun freuteuch, liebe Christen g’mein) was written in 1523 in Wittenberg by the famed reformer Martin Luther. Although most contemporarily known for his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” — through the timeless hymn “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice,” Luther offers tribute to our story (the story of redemption) and the church. The story of comfort and joy found in our Savior. “Dear Christians One and all Rejoice” is Luther’s first hymn written for congregational singing.
The most common melody for the hymn is NUN FREUT EUCH¹, and it is believed to be the original musical composition penned by Luther to accompany the hymn. Another noted melody is ES IST GEWISSLICH (“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” “Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit”). The composer of this second melody is Bartholomäus Ringwaldt 1586.
In hymnals, you will see the meter noted as 126.96.36.199.8.8.7. The numbers refer to the number of syllables in each hymn line.
(8) Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,
(7) With exultation springing,
(8) And with united heart and voice
(7) And holy rapture singing,
(8) Proclaim the wonders God has done,
(8) How His right arm the vict’ry won,
(7) What price our ransom cost Him!
Theologically speaking, “Dear Christians One and All Rejoice” is salvation’s plan laid out in a song. The text is centered within ten verses and paints a complete picture of God’s redemptive work in the world based on a portion of scripture found in Romans 3:28:
For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the law’s works.
The stanzas remind us that salvation was not easy, but we are blest forever because of our Lord Jesus’ work. Some examples of theology and the story of faith can be noted in verses 4, 5, and 8 below.
God saw, in his eternal grace, My sorrow out of measure; He thought upon his tenderness To save was his good pleasure. He turn’d to me a Father’s heart — Not small the cost to heal my smart He gave his best and dearest.
He spake to his beloved Son: ’Tis time to take compassion; Then go, bright jewel of my crown, And bring to man salvation; From sin and sorrow set him free, Slay bitter death for him, that he May live with thee forever.
For he shall shed my precious blood, Me of my life bereaving; All this I suffer for thy good; Be steadfast and believing. My life from death the day shall win, My righteousness shall bear thy sin, So art thou blest forever.
The hymn was translated from German by Richard Massie in 1854 and first published in 1524 in Achtliederbuch (Book of Eight Songs)², the first printed compilation of Lutheran hymns. The core of Luther’s tribute is pertinent today and emphasizes music’s power to nurture and teach. When we sing this song, we tell our family story — how we got to this point in time. We are reminded. Through yearly use or strategic planning, such as Reformation Sunday, this hymn reminds us that God loved us first, and God continues to shower us with grace and mercy.
Give it a go, and see how the truth of its timeless message unites your church in worship. If you are unfamiliar with the work, listen here to this hymn of The Reformation.