Mfurahini, haleluya/Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia (#188)

About the Authors

Bernhard Kyamanywa (b. 1938) was an orphan and was taken in by the Bethel Mission and raised by a German deaconess. He first became a teacher, but in 1968, started working as a Lutheran pastor in Tanzania. The song’s lively melody is also from Tanzania. The original Swahili text was written while Bernhard was in seminary in Tanzania in 1966. He wrote it in a very African style, envisioning a story-teller and congregation responding; the story-teller presents the simple story of the Easter Gospel, and the congregation responds with the refrain, although it can be sung in unison.  (

When asked about his popular hymn, Pastor Kyanamya said: “I had a need to proclaim God’s word, and I am delighted that the hymn has become so popular in other parts of the world. It was written to a traditional Tanzanian song, and I think it was received well because it sounds great with vocal singing and organ accompaniment.” (Source and picture: Calvary Chronicle (Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Toronto). Volume 3, Issue 12, April 2012, p.4.)

Howard Olson (b. 1922; d. 2010), longtime missionary/teacher in African, compiled a number of African songs in Set Free (Augsburg Fortress, 1993). Many were folk tunes to which Christian Swahili texts were later added. He wrote in the introduction: “In their original form these tunes were sung with uninhibited improvisation. Consequently the form in which these songs appear in this book represents only one of several possibilities.”  (Sing! A New Creation)

Performance Suggestion

Coming to us from Tanzania, via the Lutheran Church, this has become a favorite Easter song in part through recordings by St. Olaf and other choirs. Don’t be lulled into a slow tempo by the four-part harmonies and ¾ meter. This should move along at a lively tempo with one pulse per measure and 4—or even 8—measures per phrase/breath. The song works perfectly well with energetic a cappella singing, but can also be accompanied by djembes, bells and shakers. Shape the narrative text by giving the angels proclamation in verse 3 to the men and the woman’s testimony in verse 4 to the women.

(Greg Scheer,

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

  • Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 17, Q&A 45; Lord’s Day 22, Q&A's 57 and 58
  • Our Song of Hope, Stanza 5

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References