There are many things I like about Easter, but one of the best has to be the glorious music. When I was little, the older children’s choir at our church always sang “In Joseph’s Lovely Garden,” and I always found both the music and words very moving. (Unfortunately, by the time I was old enough for that choir, the music program had changed and that choir no longer existed, so I never got to sing it.)
Once I was old enough to join the adult choir, I got to sing the Hallelujah Chorus for Easter. As the lone high schooler in the group, I struggled to learn the alto part while the adults easily sang through it from many years of practice. Once I had learned it, though, I was disappointed to discover, over the next several years, that most churches do not perform it every Easter, as did the church I grew up in. (Adults in most church choirs seem to consider it too difficult, and I have to admit that in some cases they may be right.)
Even so, there are several wonderful Easter hymns to sing. There are “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” two hymns by Charles Wesley that are so similar that unless I have a hymnal in front of me I tend to intermix the words and music of both hymns. I never heard “Low in the Grave He Lay” until I was a teenager at a fundamentalist church, and I have to admit that it has never become one of my favorites, but it provides an effective contrast between the disciples’ grief, and the joy of the resurrection, that few other hymns do.
Today, at the early service (I am reluctant to call anything at 7 AM a sunrise service) at the Methodist church, we finished with “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” Like the Hallelujah Chorus, it speaks more to me of Christ’s Lordship over all than specifically of the Resurrection, but if one is fit for Easter then certainly the other is also. What struck me as we sang it this morning, though, was the first half of the third line: “Awake, my soul, and sing.”