This is one of our oldest hymns. The words were written by St. John of Damascus of the Greek Orthodox Church. John was born in Damascus in the 8th century, and was engaged in secular work for many years. He became an Orthodox priest late in life, and spent the rest of his life at St. Sabas convent near Jerusalem. He was a gifted poet —the greatest poet of the Greek Church.
This hymn was part of a much longer poem. John Mason Neale translated it into English in the 19th century—a thousand years after it was first written.
The first verse calls us to celebrate the resurrection—to proclaim it abroad. The second verse calls all the heavens and earth to be joyful—to sing—to proclaim a joy that has no end.