Christ is Risen! A Guide to the Easter Greeting

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From the first Easter morning to the present day, Christians around the world have hailed each other with the Easter Greeting:

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is not dead, he is alive! Through his miraculous resurrection, sin and death have been defeated and we have been reconciled to God. Our joy overflows and we cannot be silent, we must cry out! These are events so deserving of praise and cheers that, as Jesus said in Luke 19:40, if we kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

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Alleluia!

Let’s begin with the word Alleluia. Alleluia is the Greek form of the Hebrew Hallelujah, which means Praise the Lord. We first find Hallelujah in the book of Psalms where it is two words, not one. Psalm 104, for example, ends with the acclamation, “Praise the LORD.” The word “Praise” is Hallel, which is the greatest expression of praise for God in Hebrew. The second word is Jah and means LORD. So Hallelujah is the greatest expression of praise that we can offer to God.

The Hebrew word Hallelujah was carefully preserved, untranslated, by the Early Christians. They used it as their highest expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. It can be found in the earliest Christian liturgies, such as the fourth century Liturgy of St. Mark.

Christ is Risen!

“Christ is Risen!’ is adapted from Matthew 28. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have come to the tomb of Jesus, and found it empty. An angel tells them:

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 28:5-7)

“He has risen indeed” comes from the Gospel of Luke. After Jesus revealed himself to the two men on the way to Emmaus, they ran back to Jerusalem and told the eleven disciples:

The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” (Luke 24:34).

The Easter Greeting in Other Languages

According to legend, after the Holy Spirit fell on the followers of Jesus, Mary Magdalene went to share the gospel with Emperor Tiberius Caesar in Rome. She went to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. She exclaimed for the first time what is now the universal Easter proclamation among Christians, “Christ is risen!”

If Mary did share the Easter Greeting with the Emperor, what language would she have used? 

If Greek: Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti!
If Latin: Christus surréxit! Surréxit vere, allelúja!
If Ukrainian (ok, we know Mary didn’t use Ukrainian!): Khristos voskres! Voistinu voskres!

The Easter Liturgy

The Easter Greeting can be found in our earliest liturgies. In the Great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, we move through the lighting of the Paschal Candle, the reading of the Exultet, the baptisms and finally we arrive at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. It is at this moment, when we are about to partake of the body and blood of Christ, that the priest stands before God’s people and leads them in this ancient greeting.

Celebrant: Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
People: The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

The Easter Greeting has been unleashed! For the next fifty days, Christians all over the world will now greet each other with this special greeting, some also exchanging a triple kiss of peace on each other’s cheeks. It will be used throughout the whole season of Easter and is so pervasive that some Christians even answer their phones with the phrase!

A Resurrection Reminder

The Easter Greeting is not just a way of saying hello, but a proclamation of our faith. It reminds us every time we shout it in church or greet one another with it of the hope and joy that we have in Christ, and it serves as a reminder that the resurrection is not just an event that happened in the past, but a present reality that we can experience in our lives today!

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

For more about Easter and how to celebrate it in your home, buy Ashley’s guidebook, now available on Amazon. Let us keep the feast!

Published on

April 8, 2023

Author

Ashley Tumlin Wallace

Ashley Tumlin Wallace, the author of the Liturgical Home series of books and articles at Anglican Compass, is a homeschooling mom of four and the wife of an Anglican priest. She and her family live in the panhandle of Florida.

View more from Ashley Tumlin Wallace

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