Laurence Wareing offers a quick overview of some of the hymns suitable for singing after Easter, available in Singing in the Faith and on Singing the Faith Plus.
In the aftermath of Easter celebrations – in the time of “what next?” – what will we sing?
… to express the experiences of the disciples, caught between the shock and confusion of Jesus’ resurrection and the reassurances of Pentecost?
… to express our response to the message of deathless love that reaches out across the ages from the cross and empty tomb?
… to express our resolution to be ‘Easter people’?
From Andrew Pratt: What peace is there for tarnished lives (website only) – with its recollection of Jesus’ first disciples, Peter and Thomas; an acknowledgement of our repentance “when we have let God down”; and the sure promise of God’s peace offered through the risen Christ. (The middle verses 4 and 5 of W.H. Hamilton’s When Easter to the dark world came, StF 316, explore similar ideas.)
Explore, also, hymns about and reflecting the experience of the disciple Thomas, known as “the doubter” – in particular Marjorie Dobson’s Safe, locked inside that upper room (website only) and Adrian Low's thoughtful When our futures are uncertain (website only).
The story of the two disciples who find themselves joined by Jesus while walking along the Emmaus road (Luke 24: 13-35) is retold in On the day of resurrection (StF 307) and On the journey to Emmaus (StF 308). It is also referred to in communion hymns such as Be known to us in breaking bread (StF 573) and O thou who this mysterious bread (StF 597).
Charles Wesley’s All you that seek the Lord who died (StF 294) also picks up directly on the gospel accounts of the resurrection, in particular the disciples’ encounter with an angelic presence in the empty tomb (Mark 16: 1-8) and, especially, John’s account of Jesus’ conversation with Mary of Magdala (John 20: 10-18). Here the resurrection is foremost a celebration of God’s grace – of sins forgiven – and an inspiration to share a joyful gospel with others. The Mark passage is also the basis for Bernard Kyamanywa’s Jesus is risen, alleluia! (StF 304), which – as in 294 – relates the Easter story firmly to our ongoing worship and call to evangelism. Consider, too, Andrew Murphy's re-working of William Blake in And did God's feet in ancient time (website only), which bridges the space between Christ on the cross ("Lord, break your bread, and share your life!") and the stunning potential to be awakened by Pentecost ("Unleash the floodgates from above!").
In Christ is alive! Let Christians sing (StF 297), written in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, Brian Wren enthusiastically reclaims Easter as a contemporary, relevant event – not a story “bound to distant years in Palestine, but saving, healing, here and now.”
Praise bands may wish to turn to the hymns of Noel and Tricia Richards. They reiterate traditional imagery of sacrifice and reconciliation, affirming the ongoing triumph of the resurrection, but with upbeat music designed for a range of instrumental combinations: All heaven declares (StF 293) and He has risen, he has risen (StF 302, written with Gerald Coates).
With children particularly in mind, the song-writing partnership of Mark and Helen Johnson have written Easter jubilation fills the streets and towns (StF 299) and Sing a song, a joyful song (StF 310) – both using easily accessible language and crying out for some dancing in the aisles and unstrained hitting of tambourines. Plus there's also Paul Thompson's chirpy One, two, three for you and me, Jesus lives and sets us free! (website only), which need not be confined to this time of year but certainly fits the bill.