Easter Hymns: Awake, Glad Soul

Words: John S. B. Monsell, 1857

Music: Rachel Henkle, 2015

Click to listen:

 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-24198G" data-link="(G)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 
Matthew 28:5-6

He is RISEN!

I hope you have a blessed day celebrating Jesus resurrection. We are looking forward to a morning at church and an afternoon with family. Looks like the weather is going to be beautiful and I am anticipating another epic Henkle Easter Egg Hunt!

I had an interesting thing happen to me on Thursday night at band practice for this morning’s service. We made a few changes to the song list for the day, and wanted to add one more worship song to our list. We flipped through our songs looking for something upbeat, familiar and fun and chose an old hymn that seemed to fit nicely. But as we sang through it, I realized that the song mentioned Jesus’ life on earth, his prayer in the garden, his walk to Calvary and his death on the cross, and then the glorious day when believers see Jesus face to face heaven. I have sung this song many times, but I never noticed what it doesn’t include. The song skips right over the resurrection. 

So, I went home and googled “Easter Hymns” and one of the first things I found on one of my favorite hymn websites was a list of no less than 312 Easter Hymns. I didn’t have to scroll down the list very far to find the song I posted today. It just might be my new favorite.

Traditionally, Easter marks the end of a six week period of fasting and preparation. My community prepared for Easter with services each day during Holy Week. I was moved by the chance to gather together and focus our attention on the cross. I have been immersed in Lenten hymns during my little project on the blog and I finished the season of Lent with a greater understanding of my certain death without Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the price for my sin. And that to has given me moments of worship and gratitude and awe for Jesus, my Savior.

But isn’t it strange that we prepare and fast and focus for six weeks on Jesus suffering and death, only to have Easter Sunday come and go like the 5-minute free-for-all egg hunt we attended this morning with our kids? When we were searching for an song to add to our worship set, I realized that our body of music is very focused on the cross, the death of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong – that is so important. But, it seems that we are not singing about the fact that JESUS IS ALIVE nearly as much as we are singing about him dying. 

I don’t know if your church has the same skew, but I believe that what we sing affects what we believe and know. Jesus’ death and resurrection must go hand in hand. One does not make sense without the other. As cheesy at it sounds, Christians should be celebrating, talking about, and living in light of Easter all year long. This is the event that changed the course of human history forever. 

It turns out that the church calendar helps us extend the celebration for more than just one day a year. Today marks the beginning of the Easter season, and it lasts for the next 50 days. If you have any influence over what your congregation sings, think about keeping the Easter hymns and songs in the rotation during the next 7 Sundays. Once you know a bunch of great Resurrection songs, keep singing them throughout the year. I am planning to post some more Easter hymns on the blog during the next 50 days as well.

If you went to church today, what songs did you sing? Do you have any favorite Easter hymns? Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks, Buzz

Last night, I got a call from an unfamiliar phone number. It was a man’s voice on the other end of the line.

“Hello, this is Buzz from Long-Term Care,” he said.
“Okay,” I answered. His name didn’t ring a bell. Immediately I thought that one of our church members had passed away and this was someone on staff at the nursing home calling to inform us.
“I wondered if this would be a good time for me to sing you a song.”
“Okay,” I answered again, racking my brain for clues about who this man could be.
“Since Easter is coming up, I want to sing ‘I Know My Redeemer Lives’ for you and your husband.”
Then it dawned on me. Jesse and I met him last Sunday while leading a service at an area nursing home. He had asked us to write our names and phone numbers on a scrap of paper and promised to call and sing for us on our birthdays. I thought that sounded sweet, but I didn’t think much of it at the time since our birthdays are a few months away.
“You might want to turn on your speakerphone,” he suggested. “I’ll sing three verses.”
Jesse and I stood in the kitchen with the phone resting on the counter listening to Buzz’s aged, slightly warbling voice singing,
I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.

After he finished singing, he simply said, “Well, have a good night,” and the call was over.
I know next to nothing about this man and he knows very little about us, but a simple phone call and a song made my entire Easter week. I almost forgot that this week is about more than extra worship services and a million additions to my usual to-do list. My Redeemer lives. Thanks for the reminder, Buzz.