By Rev. Mike Gudka, St. Paul United Methodist Church
My articles for this month are a little different than what I have done in the past. I am going to look at the history behind some of the great old hymns that many have come to know and love. Many of these hymns have an interesting past; they come from many different people and church denominations, and help tell a powerful story of what we believe. They can comfort us, bring back strong memories, and help us draw closer to Christ.
This week I am going to look at the hymn “He Lives.” This tune was written out of an experience that was had by the Presbyterian pastor Alfred H. Ackley in 1933. Alfred was having a discussion with a Jew about Christ and the discussion was not going well. The man finally turned to Alfred and quipped, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” Alfred quickly responded with, “But Jesus lives!”
From this experience he wrote this hymn that is very upbeat, joyful, and proclaims without any doubt that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and is alive today. So the next time you have the opportunity to sing this wonderful hymn, sing it out loud and strong, just like Alfred powerful response to an unbeliever, “I serve a risen Savior, he’s in the world today; I know that he is living, whatever foes may say. I see his hand of mercy, I hear his voice of cheer, and just the time I need him, he’s always near. He lives (he lives), he lives (he lives), Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives (he lives), he lives (he lives) salvation to impart! You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.”