Best Easter hymns?

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Lent and Easter

BBC Music Magazine has published its “top five choices” of Easter hymns. Four of them appear in Singing the Faith.

The selection was curated by the magazine’s deputy editor, Jeremy Pound. Do you agree with his pick?

“Ask people to name a Christmas carol,” he says, “and you can expect to be bombarded with answers – even those who have rarely stepped in a church tend to be able come up with a few. But then ask the same question about Easter, and the room goes silent. Despite the day’s importance in the Christian calendar, Easter hymns are comparatively both few in number and in familiarity. Here, then, are five that are well worth getting to know…”

resurrection-hand-holding-small-wooden-cross-gettyimages-1366852948Christ the Lord is risen today (StF 298)

Jeremy notes that the addition of the ‘Alleluyas’ to Wesley’s words was to make them fit the tune first published in Lyra Davidica in 1708. We know it simply as Easter Hymn.

Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son (StF 313)

Handel’s tune is taken from his oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, though it was written to celebrate the notorious victory of the Duke of Cumberland’s Government forces over the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden.

Now the green blade rises (StF 306)

The French tune Noël Nouvelet was adapted for Easter purposes by the English deacon and theologian John Macleod Campbell Crum.

resurrection-mosaic-gettyimages-177724506The day of resurrection (StF 311)

Jeremy comments: “You won’t find many hymns older than this – the original words are by the Greek poet St John of Damascus, who lived from c675-c750.” A former chorister at New College, Oxford, he adds that “piling in together in unison for the first line is one of the great joys of Easter singing”.

Awake, arise! Lift up your voice

The author, Christopher Smart (1722-1771), “was an eminent poet and journalist whose ‘religious mania’ led to him being incarcerated in an asylum for a number of years, during which time he wrote his quirky poem ‘Jubilate Agno’, famously set to music by Benjamin Britten in his anthem Rejoice in the Lamb”.  

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