As I reflect on the glorious triumph of the Easter season, I remember the final hymn my congregation sang on Easter Sunday: “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” (LSB 633). One of my all-time favorite hymns, it has a text that rightly captures both the joy of the day and the ultimate joy of the glorious Easter feast of heaven.
Easter is a time of rejoicing, and one of the best ways to rejoice is to throw a feast. In fact, for the past several Easter Sundays, I have had the opportunity to celebrate with food and fellowship. This feasting is a continuation of the joy of the Sunday-morning proclamation that “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” It is also a foretaste of the celebration of heaven, that great feast of victory.
The High Feast of Our Victorious King
“At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” provides a joyous picture of the community of the Christian church gathered to celebrate at a feast. Much like our liturgy states, this is a “feast of victory for our God” (LSB 171). The picture is one of celebration after a glorious, victorious battle. The text in our hymn states that Christ has “conquered in the fight” (st. 5). And this is not some arrogant warrior who wins one battle today but must continue to fight at the risk of a future loss. Oh no, this victory is complete, total, and final, the victory of a “Victim” (st. 5), a humble Lamb sent to die for us.
Feasting on Easter Sunday, then, provides a tangible representation of the whole Christian community celebrating the ultimate victory of Christ over sin, death, and Satan. While it is impossible for the entire body of Christians to gather on earth, our own feasts with family and friends give us a taste of that gathering—a gathering we know will happen some day in heaven. So the celebration and feasting of Easter Day give a glimpse of the “Lamb’s high feast” (st. 1) we look forward to with undying hope.
Eat We Manna from Above
Although Easter Sunday presents a high of the Church Year, the feast of all feasts, “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” tells us that we get to celebrate this feast often. In fact, we get to feast every time we take Holy Communion. The body and blood of Christ provide us with a feast every Sunday as they physically remind us of Christ’s triumph over the grave. As stanza three states, “Where the paschal blood is poured, Death’s dread angel sheathes the sword.” Death no longer has power over us, so we feast!
And the table of Holy Communion is also where we are united with other Christians in “sincerity and love” (st. 4). Christ, the victor Himself, provides His own body for the feast. He is both “paschal victim” and “paschal bread” (st. 4). He is both the reason we feast and the very food of the feast. Just like the complaining Israelites, we receive this “manna from above” (st. 4) for nourishment, but this is a nourishment that lasts. And this is a feast that never ends.
You Have Opened Paradise
This Easter feast is the ultimate feast of victory because it is the feast of One who has totally won and shall never lose. He has “conquered in the fight” and “brought us life and light” (st. 5). And we fear no longer. Death can no longer appall, the grave no longer enthrall. “Hell’s fierce pow’rs beneath [Christ] lie” (st. 5). The joy that comes from this is an everlasting joy. It is no cheap trick or temporary fix. It is eternal and life-giving and lasts even through the dark and dreary hours of life on earth. And it will never be taken from us again.
And our response to all this? All we can do is sing “Praise the Lord!” or, more concisely, “Alleluia!” And that is exactly what the text from “At the Lamb’s High Feast We Sing” does. In glorious strains of music, we sing “alleluia” over and over again. The triumph of Easter has destroyed sin, and we sing “alleluia!” Paradise has been opened for us, and we sing “alleluia!” Christ has brought us life and light, and we sing “alleluia!” And we shall celebrate at the Lamb’s high feast. For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Play the prelude above at your church!
The prelude is from Feast after Feast: Easy Preludes on Communion Hymns, Set 2.