Pillar Journal
- A seasonal journal produced by Pillar Church in Holland, MI to guide us through the Christian year.

Song Reflection #4 – Awake Thou Wintry Earth


Here in the lyrics of Awake Thou Wintry Earth, we see the personified earth flinging off her sadness. She invites light, flowers, growth, and warmth in the wake of the eternal Spring. The verses present here were first printed in an 1850 edition of a book entitled “Poems for the Sick and Suffering,” written by Thomas Blackburne, with an additional chorus.

This addition is in hopes of further connecting the idea of the newness of our world in Spring to the realities of the new life given to those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Flinging off the sting of death in light of Christ’s victory over the grave is joyful and is a reality that those who believe in Christ enjoy daily, but let’s not miss the significance in the text of being awakened to the reality of Christ being risen.

Have you ever been abruptly awoken from a deep sleep? Maybe a child woke you up in the middle of the night, or a sibling shook you awake and told you it was time to be ready and out the door 10 minutes ago! Or maybe a Sunday nap went a little longer than expected and you’ve woken up wondering what day it is all together.

This type of awakening, half asleep and half awake, is the type of state I imagine Awake Thou Wintry Earth finding each of us in. The text urges us like our child or sibling to get up and look around! Christ is making everything new!
The earth cannot help but to break forth with beauty and praise in the light of the resurrection. Realize it, join in it, and celebrate it!

The reality of new life in Christ is just that – a reality. But we experience this reality in a groggy state of being awoken from our deep sleep to the thought that Christ truly is making all things new.
We are experiencing it as people living in a world that springs forth with beauty, but that is also ravaged with the impacts of sin and death. Can Christ really be making all things new? Could he possibly make new the loss I feel? Will he ever make beautiful the circumstance that has torn my family apart? How could Christ ever love me if he truly knows who I am?

These questions are worthy of being brought before the risen God, who fully knows what it feels like to experience the sting of death, grief, and shame in his human life and death on the cross. But there are also questions of wonder and beauty to bring before God.

How marvelous is the God who created Lake Michigan and all its beauty? Could God’s goodness really be as near to me as it feels when I hear my child laugh uncontrollably? How could I possibly feel more loved than I do by the support system of people around me?

These realities live in tension with each other, and both can be true. Both are true and both are claimed by Christ in his rising again. If you’ve been awoken from a deep sleep then you know that while the grogginess can last, it does not last forever. Soon you’ll be off to the realities of your day, wide awake and seeing things more vibrantly than before.

May our prayer be that God continues to awaken us to the realities available to us in the neverending Spring of Jesus Christ. Newness of life and beauty have come to reign forever and ever among us, and we have only just been jolted awake.

Awake, thou wintry earth!
Thomas Blackburne
Awake, thou wintry earth!
Fling off thy sadness!
Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth
Your ancient gladness:
Christ is risen!
Wave, woods, your blossoms all!
Grim death is dead;
Ye weeping, funeral trees,
Lift up your head:
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen
The warmth of spring
Is rising over cold winter’s sting
Christ is risen
Lift up your eyes
The son of light gives us life
All is fresh and new,
Full of spring and light:
Wintry heart, why wears the hue
Of sleep and night?
Christ is risen!
Leave thy cares beneath,
Leave thy worldly love:
Begin the better life
With God above

By Emily Hanrahan