- UMH - United Methodist Hymnal
- TWFS - The Faith We Sing
Hallelujah, the Alleluias can come out of the closet and be sung again – even if we are still singing them in our living rooms! Lent can feel like such a long stretch of time when we put away the “good stuff” as an act of discipline and giving things up, like chocolate, so we can appreciate them anew during the season of Easter. It’s a new season of celebration, and it’s time to get out the china, the brass candlesticks, and the good linens! It’s time to live into the best of who we are with the best of what we are given. It’s time to remember that we are Easter people!
“Living into the Resurrection” is the name of this worship series centering on our walk with Jesus in the forty days following the Resurrection. It’s not only a time to put on new garments but to put on Christ. One way we do this is by singing what we believe concerning the Resurrection and eternal life. A great song that can be used as a theme song for the series is “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me,” 2153 in The Faith We Sing and “The Summons, TFWS 2130.
On the Sunday of Easter, most churchgoers expect to sing the great Charles Wesley hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” UMH 302. Singing this hymn is almost as satisfying as singing “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” in a room full of United Methodists. Beyond “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” which often is the opening hymn on Easter Sunday, there are a number of selections to choose from. Staying with the theme of the worship series, consider “Up From the Grave He Arose,” UMH 322, which beautifully echoes the feeling of terror and amazement as the music starts slowly and sad and then changes to a quicker beat with an upward sweep of the melody that brings a feeling of joy. Another song is from the modern genre, “Our God Reigns.” Also consider “Jesus at the Center."
For the second and third Sundays of Easter, with the themes “Unless I See” and “Touch and See,” consider “We Walk by Faith,” TFWS 2196; “Let It Breathe on Me, UMH 503; and from the modern worship genre, “Grace Alone." Consider also “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.” Here are three different renditions of the song:
If you plan to emphasize Native American Ministries Sunday on April 18, click here for related resources.
Some ideas for music found in the United Methodist Hymnal include “Many and Great, O God” on page 148 and “Heleluyan” on 78.
The fourth week of Easter centers on listening to God. How do we help people listen in worship when we are so busy talking and singing? One way is to build in silence and time to pause and reflect – something like a little retreat in worship! Think about inviting the congregation to sing the hymns and songs silently, so that they spend more energy listening than vocalizing the text. Or perhaps ask everyone not to sing on a particular verse and say the words of the text or simply listen.
Hymns and songs that work well for the fourth week of Easter include “My Life Flows On,” TFWS 2212, and “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” UMH 57.
The fifth week of Easter centers on abiding in Christ. How do we abide in Christ as a congregation? The planning notes suggest that we do so through silence, music, and scripture. This sounds like a great time for scripture and music to set the tone for a contemplative service much like those found in Taizé worship (an ecumenical community in the south of France). Here, the congregation is invited to become more centered by spending time in silence, in guided prayer and scripture reading, and finally in music that is easily sung and repetitive. To learn more, click here and here.
Weeks 6 and 7, titled “No Greater Love” and “We Are Yours” respectively, echo the call-and-response pattern we emphasize in a worship service. We see God’s great love for us and God’s creation and mighty works. In turn, that calls believers to follow and serve God’s people and to bring others closer to God. As the joy-filled Easter season wraps up and we move on to Pentecost and beyond, the music for these two Sundays can center on helping worshipers claim their faith and trust in God and continue on the path of discipleship.
Some hymn suggestions for these two Sundays follow. “I Come With Joy,” UMH 617, comes from Ghana and is a joyful reflection of hearing God’s call and going forth to serve. Another hymn in that same vein is “The Summons,” TFWS 2130. A wonderful vocal solo from the African American tradition for Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) is “Give Me Jesus.” Click here for resources for this wonderful song.
The last couple of suggestions center on our continued walk and journey with Christ beyond the Ascension and into the season after Pentecost. They include, “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me,” UMH 521; “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” UMH 526; “Make Us One” from the modern worship repertoire; and David Bratton’s “Every Praise” recorded here by Hezekiah Walker.