Saturday, August 19, 2017

O Praise the Name (Anastasis) -- Marty Sampson, Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher

Anastasis=Resurrection (ancient Greek)

If you, in your curiosity, investigated this song’s subtitle, you’d probably need no further examination to guess the song’s essence. From its meaning springs a reaction to an event, contained in the main title of the song. Perhaps that’s how the three Christian friends in Australia thought about “O Praise the Name”, when they decided to place this phrase in parentheses in the song’s label. Marty, Benjamin, and Dean are their names, associates who were evidently pondering the centerpiece of human history – resurrection. And, they must have wanted to reach back toward that special day by using an ancient word that would have been recognizable in the ears of many. Place yourself in the shoes (or, more likely, sandals) of someone who might have witnessed the Divine rising from the grave.

Marty Sampson was a 36-year-old worship minister at the Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, who, along with Benjamin Hasings and Dean Ussher, co-wrote “O Praise the Name” and introduced it to others in 2015. It’s not a surprise the reaction its words generated, as “O Praise…” was sung for the first time at the Sydney-based church, according to those who were there at Easter of that year. Its impact was what the three undoubtedly felt would naturally flow from imagining being at Jesus’ tomb that first morning in the first century. Sometime in the next few years or at least in that generation, someone in the ancient Greek world wrote ‘Anastasis’ (correctly pronounced ‘ah –nas –ta –sis’) to convey to a wider audience that the incredible was credible. Jesus rose! Marty and his two friends, 20 centuries later, wanted to recapture the eyewitness viewpoint, and so they take us to the bloody hill of His execution (v.1), His lonely tomb – later transformed into a dazzling scene of joy (vv.2+3)– and finally to the future rebirth of His saints (v.4). Marty, Ben, and Dean made it the headliner of the album “Open Heaven/River Wild”, appropriate for the unbounded emotion the song stimulates. It’s impossible to ignore its words and implications, the same way it was impossible for contemporaries to evade Jesus’ reappearance, and how impossible it will be for any of us to hide during His return at the end.  

What other circumstances motivated the three composers? Does it matter? What else matters the way Anastasis does, when you mouth its words? Would anyone want to escape this aura that Jesus has spurred? These are lots of questions, perhaps rhetorical for you or me. If they’re not in the abstract for you, it’s not too late to hunt your answers. What Marty, Ben, and Dean have written is too electric to dismiss. Some writer long ago said ‘praise’ would be on everyone’s lips in heaven (Rev. 5, 7, 19). Maybe you’d better check this out, before it’s too late.          

See the following sites for information on one of the composers, and the song: (for definition of the song’s parenthetical subtitle)

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