For those of us who are believers, the resurrection is crucially important to our faith. If Christ was not raised, we have no hope (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). But because He has conquered death we take great joy in proclaiming “He is risen, he is risen indeed!” Easter, or Resurrection Sunday as I prefer to call it, is just around the corner. It is time to prepare musically for the great celebration. Below is a list (in no particular order) of a few hymns that can help you on your way.
5 Hymns to Sing at Your Easter Service
Last Updated: February 2017
1. Christ the Lord is Risen Today, by Charles Wesley
This beautiful song was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley. It was originally called “Hymn for Easter” and consisted of eleven four-line stanzas. It is sometimes set to other melodies, but reached its greatest popularity and effect when wed to the anonymously written tune from a 14th-century Latin hymn which was published in the Lyra Davidica hymnal in 1708. The joyous “Alleluias” at the end of each line were then added by an editor to make it fit that melody. I frankly would be greatly disappointed to not hear this song sung on Resurrection Sunday, or at least played as an instrumental. It is an absolute classic and a joyous celebration of Jesus’ victory over death!
“Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!”
2. He is Risen by Cecil Francis Alexander
Cecil Francis Alexander wrote about 400 hymns in her lifetime, many were specifically for children to sing and learn about the scriptures. She and her sister had a real heart for children; they founded a school for the deaf and set up the Girls’ Friendly Society in Londonderry, Ireland. She wrote He is Risen in 1846, the lyrics were then set to a melody composed by Joachim Neander in 1860. Alexander loved the Lord deeply and was fascinated that the first ones to hear the joyous news of Jesus’ resurrection were women: “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.” (Matthew 28:5-6).
“Said the angel, “He is risen!”
Tell it out with joyful voice
He has burst his three days’ prison
Let the whole wide earth rejoice
Death is conquered, we are free
Christ has won the victory.”
3. Before The Throne
This hymn, written by Charitie L. Bancroft in 1863, had faded into obscurity until songwriter and vocalist Vikki Cook took the hymn and set the words to an entirely new melody in 1997. This is a perfect example of the depth of riches that can be mined in an old hymn. Cook’s original tune reignited the flame behind this amazing composition and made it accessible to a whole new generation of believers. This hymn has spread like wildfire around the globe and encouraged Christians that we have a Great High Priest, whose name is Love and He has taken our place.
“Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace! ”
4. Alleluia! Alleluia! Let the Holy Anthem Rise
This hymn was written by Edward Caswall in the 1850s and has been published in 22 different hymnals. The authorship of the tune is unclear, with different editors attributing it to different composers, or not naming one at all. Caswall was a priest who was known to have published several works in prose and poetry. His life was marked by earnest devotion to his clerical duties and a loving interest in helping the poor and the sick. The lyrics to this hymn inspire faith and resonate with great hope born of the reality of Jesus’ rising.
Like the sun from out the wave,
Christ has risen up in triumph
From the darkness of the grave,
Glorious splendor of the nations,
And the lamp of endless day;
Christ the very Lord of glory
Who is risen up today.”
5. In Christ Alone, by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
This hymn is hugely popular and has had a massive impact internationally. It tells the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and second coming. It is a modern day hymn on par with many of the classic hymns of Christendom. I especially like the verse where the triumph of the resurrection is celebrated.
“There in the tomb, His body lay, Light of the World by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again”