Exploring Redemption & Sacrifice in Easter Hymns

sacrifice and redemption in Easter hymns

Hi, friends. Every Easter and Christmas, I introduce a theme related to the holiday and post the stories behind three hymns that reflect that theme. This Easter, our theme is a blend of redemption and sacrifice.

Last Easter, I used blood as the theme for exploration. The first post introduced the topic, explaining animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and relating the significance of Jesus’s blood sacrifice. We looked at the songs “There Is Power in the Blood,” “Nothing But the Blood,” and “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.”

Before moving on to completely different themes (the cross, the resurrection itself, Jesus being alive, God’s love, etc.), I’d like to spend another year in this general area. Our hymns this year all refer to blood and how it symbolically cleanses us; however, I want to shift the focus from the literal significance of blood in Christianity to the relationship between sacrifice and redemption that undergirds the references to blood.

Redemption & Sacrifice in Three Hymns

This year, we will look at the songs “Jesus Paid It All,” “Whiter Than Snow,” and “Victory in Jesus.” Each song refers to the symbolic cleansing of our sins by Jesus’s blood shed on the cross.

These songs speak more specifically about the sacrifice required from Jesus, which we’ll see further down. “Jesus Paid It All” and “Victory in Jesus” even use language evocative of a financial exchange (“paid it all,” “sought me and bought me”). This language recalls some of the Apostle Paul’s imagery.

“You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings.” -1 Cor 7:23 (NIV)

The lyrics of each song speak of the sacrifice required by Jesus that enabled redemption, but they also acknowledge a sacrifice required on OUR parts in return for that redemption. The blending of redemption and sacrifice–a sacrifice (from Jesus) that enabled redemption, a sacrifice (from us) required BECAUSE of redemption–underscores these hymns.

Note that lyrics from each hymn acknowledge Jesus’s sacrifice (through blood symbolism) AND allude to a sacrifice we give in return. We observe that part of the “return sacrifice” involves allowing the Lord to mold our hearts, as “heart” and/or “love” appears in all three hymns.

Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r and Thine alone
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone

He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him

I heard about His groaning
Of His precious blood’s atoning
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory

Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait
Come now and within me a new heart create

The blessing by faith, I receive from above
O glory! My soul is made perfect in love
My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know
The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow

As Easter approaches, I hope you join me in pondering the redemption we are offered due to Jesus’s sacrifice along with what God is asking of us in return. The “Story Behind” posts will be published 4/12, 4/16, and 4/19. [Easter Sunday is 4/21.]

Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24, (ESV)

God is faithful, and you were called by Him to partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. -1 Cor 1:9, (CEB)

Thanks for reading! Do you enjoy these hymns? Do you have something to say about redemption and sacrifice? Let me know in the comments.


28 responses to “Exploring Redemption & Sacrifice in Easter Hymns”

  1. Deborah Kallam Avatar
    Deborah Kallam

    Well said. I love the old hymns. I miss them too, but I do like some of the new music to. Loe you Lily Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the old hymns and the new music, too. Love you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My mother’s favorite was Victory in Jesus. I love all old Hymns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too! I have always loved “Victory in Jesus.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great theme! I love songs that focus on the work of Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sullivan! Same here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, LIly. These hymns are part of my heritage. I, too, will be posting articles that relate to Jesus’ blood sacrifice in the next week. Blessings as we remember His gift of redemption.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will look forward to reading those, Fran! May we always remember that redemption is a gift.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Three of my favorites, our Conference Superintendent for our district used to joke that Victory in Jesus was our District hymn.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve always loved that one, too! I love the uplifting approach that we have the victory through Christ.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love the old hymns because they are so rich in meaning. When I ponder the meaning of these hymns, I think about my sin and the price Jesus paid for my sin, so I can be forgiven. When I dwell on that truth, I am left speechless.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It really is good news–so good that it’s awe-inspiring. God has worked so much to the good in both our lives. I love the lyrics of the old hymns also. The words of “Whiter Than Snow” are especially beautiful in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Those hymns are all common in our church! We still use physical hymnals for every song. It’ll be so cool to learn their origins!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We have screens for the contemporary songs but still use physical hymnals for the older tunes! I look forward to learning about and sharing the stories of these hymns. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Eclectic Contrarian Avatar
    The Eclectic Contrarian

    You followed my blog a while back. I appreciate you for that! And I haven’t had much of a chance to talk to you. You’ve asked me some things from previous posts but I never got any replies. My comments seem to be messing up lately. Please bare with me.

    Anyway, I hope I haven’t offended you or anything. Just introducing myself formally, I’m John. 🙂


  9. What a lovely and timely reminder💙

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Tebatjo Malaka Avatar
    Tebatjo Malaka

    Beautiful hymns. I am a hymn-lover. Old hymns have sacred meaning and blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I, too, love all church music: the beloved old hymns as well as the newer ones. We use a blend of music with bit more of the KLove-type tunes during worship, and hymns you can sing without a book at Sunday School. During the offering, I play traditional songs letting the words of the old favorites flow thru my memory. Lily, I always enjoy your articles about music and the powerful messages in those stanzas. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also enjoy both the old hymns and the contemporary worship music! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I am a huge fan of modern worship music, but I cannot shake the powerful lyrics of these hymns and others. As part of my personal worship (especially in preparation to lead church music), I would often quote the lyrics aloud and the doctrine or Scripture that aligns. It took my worship to a new level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Matthew! Not always but more often than not, the old hymns pack in some great theology, whereas not all but a lot of contemporary worship creates a spiritual and worshipful atmosphere more than actually lays out theology. That’s an awesome idea to meditate on lyrics like these before scripture.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. * Meant to say before the service

      Liked by 1 person

  13. […] Exploring Redemption & Sacrifice in Easter Hymns — Read on retrospectivelily.com/2019/04/09/exploring-redemption-and-sacrifice-in-easter-hymns/ […]


  14. […] Lily) Lily – Exploring Redemption – I love that Lily does themes around Easter and Christmas. This year she focused on […]


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