We know nothing at all about the hymn's author or about the person who composed the majestic tune it is exclusively sung to.
Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!
But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!
Early manuscripts suggest that the hymn originated in Bohemia [Germany] and was originally sung as an Easter Carol sometime in the 14th century. The Latin first line is Surrexit Christus hodie.
The English translation, along with the tune, first appeared in a collection of Psalms and Hymns called Lyra Davidica which was published in 1708. It is the only melody to survive from that publication.
The hymn was revised and appeared near to its present form in the 1816 supplement to Tate and Brady’s New Version of the Psalms, a metrical version of the Psalter.
The popularity of Jesus Christ is risen today is due, in part, to the tune it is sung to. Some music historians have speculated that the great G.F. Handel composed it, though this is very unlikely. A few have ascribed the melody to a Dr. John Worgan [1724-1790]. Worgan was a close friend of Handel and might well have introduced the hymn tune to England. He had also taught Charles Wesley to play the keyboard. In the 18th century it was widely referred to as the Worgan Tune. It is more probable that the melody was composed sometime earlier, perhaps for the original Latin words. It was later arranged by the celebrated William Henry Monk in the 19th century, one of the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern.
‘Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
Praise eternal as His love, Alleluia!
Praise Him, all you heavenly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia! '
Though we know very little about the origin of Jesus Christ is risen today it brings together the two great themes of Holy Week and Easter, the Cross and the Resurrection.
Each verse is very cleverly divided into two halves [couplets]. One couplet refers directly to the Lord’s victory over death and the other to his passion. In the first and second verses the couplets celebrating the resurrection come first, followed by those which refer to his suffering. In the final verse this pattern is subtly reversed. In this way the great hymn celebrates the message of Holy Week and Easter - Christ crucified and risen.