Several versions of the Easter hymn Christus is opgestanden (Christ Has Risen) are in use in Dutch-speaking regions. The most common one, on a fairly dogmatic five-strophe text, was already published in Amsterdam in 1570, and has been included as Hymn 211 in the Liedboek voor de Kerken (Church Hymnal, 1973). Another version with nine strophes and a folkish, narrative character is sung each year at folkloristic Easter rituals in the village of Ootmarsum (in the Twente region in the province of Overijssel). An important difference is that the refrain of the first version is “Kyrieleis” and that of the song from Twente “Alleluja”. The melodies of the two songs, which bear strong resemblances, have been derived from the sequentia for Easter Victimae pascali laudes.
Following an article on the traditional festival in Ootmarsum, the text of the version from Twente was published in the newspaper De Tijd on 11 April 1902. It was this version of the text that Diepenbrock used for his composition. He also based the melody on motives from the sequentia Victimae paschali laudes, as indicated in the subtitle of the printed edition. The nine strophes are through-composed with occasional repeats. The work for four-part choir is almost entirely homophonic; imitation occurs on a small scale in the refrains only. Diepenbrock set the soprano part of the last three “Alleluja” sections to the melody of the Ite missa est, which in the Roman Catholic liturgy concludes the morning mass on Easter Sunday:1
In Diepenbrock’s correspondence with Hondius van den Broek we read that this composition meant a lot to him and that it was one of the
pieces that can cheer me up when I feel bad. (BD IV:60) In a letter to J.C. Hol, Diepenbrock said about Christus is opgestanden and Zij sluimert (She Slumbers, RC 51):
Both of these things are alive and have depth. (BD IV:49)
Diepenbrock conceived his Christus is opgestanden for boys’ choir:
That is what it has been written for and only then can it reach its full potential. (BD V:330) However, he never heard the composition sung by boys.
The work was popular and its publication by S.L. van Looy in Vier Vierstemmige Liederen (Four Four-Part Songs, 1906) received positive reviews. It was also performed by Hubert Cuypers and the St Alphonsus Choir at the 12th general meeting of the Dutch St Gregory’s Society on 28 September 1910. After attending a later performance by the Cuypers a Cappella Choir on 2 June 1912, Matthijs Vermeulen called the depiction in this choir song
memorably characteristic and powerful. His conclusion runs:
An entire article could be written on the thoroughly medieval interpretation and musical portrayal of the ancient text; in other words, concerning its psyche and expression. (BD VII:603)
1 According to the Ordinarium Missae this is the usual formula (secundum communiorem usum) for principal high feasts; see the Graduale Romanum (Paris: Desclée et Socii 1961), 11 or the Liber usualis (Paris 1958), 22.