Alfred Henry Ackley was born in Pennsylvania in 1887. He showed great promise as a child, and his musician father personally tutored him before sending him to New York City to study music. From there, it was on to the Royal Academy of Music in London. Alfred then returned to the States to attend Westminster Seminary in Maryland, and he was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry in 1914. After pastoring a church in his home state of Pennsylvania, Alfred was called to a congregation in California. It was there in 1932, that Alfred met a Jewish man to whom he began witnessing. But the man resisted the Christian faith saying, "why should I worship a dead Jew?"
That statement played on Alfred's mind as he prepared his Easter Sunday message. Rising early to prepare for the day, Alfred flipped on the radio as he shaved and was astonished to hear a famous liberal preacher in New York say: "You know folks, it really doesn't make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I'm concerned, His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, His truth goes marching on!" Alfred wanted to fling the radio across the room. "What a lie!" he exclaimed. That morning, Ackley preached with great vigour on the reality of Christ's resurrection, and he did the same at the evening service. Later that night though, he was still exercised over his friend's question and the morning's radio sermon. "Why don't you write a song about it? Then maybe you'll feel better," suggested his wife. Alfred went to his study, opened his Bible, and re-read the account of the resurrection in Mark's Gospel. A thrill went through him, and he began writing the words to "He Lives!" A few minutes later, he was at the piano putting it to music - a joyful, jaunty melody it is indeed.
“I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today.
I know that He is living; whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me, along life's narrow way;
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart,
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!
In all the world around me I see His loving care;
And tho' my heart grows weary I never will despair.
I know that He is leading thro' all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing.
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King.
The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find.
None other is so loving, So good and kind.”
"He is not here: for he is risen, as he said." Matthew 28:6a