Stunning Easter Anthem: Blessed be the God and Father (Samuel Sebastian Wesley)

April 27, 2015

Via Twitter, I discovered this fantastic Easter Anthem by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.  The version in the YouTube below is sung by Consortium.

This version is available for purchase at iTunes here.  There is also a beautiful recording from the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, here.

Here are the lyrics via the Choral Wiki site:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy
hath begotten us again unto a lively hope
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,
that fadeth not away,
reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God
through faith unto salvation
ready to be revealed at the last time.

But as he which hath called you is holy,
so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.
Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.

Love one another with a pure heart fervently.
See that ye love one another.
Love one another with a pure heart fervently:

Being born again,
not of corruptible seed,
but of incorruptible,
by the word of God.

For all flesh is as grass,
and all the glory of man
as the flower of grass.
The grass withereth,
and the flower thereof falleth away.

But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.
Amen.


Lifting High the Cross: How the Martyrs Exalted Christ by Their Deaths (part 1)

April 21, 2015

 

Last night I was reading a story online about the Ethiopian martyrs when the song Lift High the Cross came up in my playlist.  I was moved to tears at the juxtaposition.  Truly the Ethiopian martyrs, the Kenyan martyrs, the Egyptian martyrs – and the hundreds if not thousands of martyrs whose names we do not know and whose stories we never hear, have lifted high the Cross of Jesus in their lives and in their deaths.

They showed themselves to be true “servants of the crucified” – faithful unto death, willing to die rather than deny the name of Christ.

 

 

Here are the full lyrics coutesy of the Oremus hymnal

Refrain:
Lift high the cross,
the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore
his sacred Name.

Come, brethren, follow where our Captain trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God. Refrain

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine. Refrain

Each newborn soldier [servant] of the Crucified*  (many versions now replace soldier with servant)
bears on the brow the seal of him who died. Refrain

This is the sign which Satan’s legions fear
and angels veil their faces to revere. Refrain

Saved by this Cross whereon their Lord was slain,
the sons of Adam their lost home regain. Refrain

From north and south, from east and west they raise
in growing unison their songs of praise. Refrain

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee. Refrain

Let every race and every language tell
of him who saves our souls from death and hell. Refrain

From farthest regions let their homage bring,
and on his Cross adore their Savior King. Refrain

Set up thy throne, that earth’s despair may cease
beneath the shadow of its healing peace. Refrain

For thy blest Cross which doth for all atone
creation’s praises rise before thy throne. Refrain

May many more followers of Christ be raised up through the testimony of those who were willing to die for Christ, imitating the way of His cross in their deaths.  May God work in the hearts of those ISIS members who were there on the beach or in the desert applauding these deaths.  May He raise up many Pauls among them to proclaim the faith they once attempted to annihilate and the Lord whom they scorned.

Please keep praying for the martyrs’ families and the church in Ethiopia. May those grieving be comforted and strengthened at knowing their loved ones did not shrink from death, and are now receiving honor in heaven.

And pray for ISIS members to encounter the Risen Christ, that they might become His faithful servants too.


Easter Hymns: Jesus Lives!

April 20, 2015

One of the Easter hymns that I have enjoyed discovering over the past two years while building my Easter Hymns playlist has been Jesus Lives! no longer now can thy terrors, death, appall us (tune St. Albinus).

Here’s a wonderful choral prelude (the organ is just awesome!) of this hymn, posted by Martin Gaskell:

There is also a YouTube recording of this hymn from an Easter Evensong service from St. Catherine’s Church Gorseinon.

The version I chose to purchase for my playlist is by The Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Barry Rose & John Scott.  There’s also a good recording of this on the Easter album by All Saints Church, Beverly Hills (one of the best Easter hymns albums from the US – I’ve purchased 7 of the songs).

1. Jesus lives! thy terrors now
can no longer, death, appall us;
Jesus lives! by this we know
thou, O grave, canst not enthrall us.
Alleluia!

2. Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of Life immortal;
This shall calm our trembling breath,
When we pass its gloomy portal.
Alleluia!

3. Jesus lives! for us he died;
then, alone to Jesus living,
pure in heart may we abide,
glory to our Savior giving.
Alleluia!

4. Jesus lives! our hearts know well
nought from us his love shall sever;
life, nor death, nor powers of hell
tear us from his keeping ever.
Alleluia!

5. Jesus lives! to him the throne
over all the world is given:
may we go where he has gone,
rest and reign with him in heaven.

Note: I noticed that some published versions of the lyrics omit verse 2 – perhaps that verse is included more often when this is sung as a funeral hymn, and omitted when it is sung during Easter?

May the Lord help us to remember and proclaim this wonderful message today.  In Christ’s life is our life!  ALLELUIA!


A Compilation of 70 Favorite Easter and Eastertide Hymns

April 19, 2015
Easter Hymns

image credit: iTunes

NOTE: This post contains a listing of 70 great Easter hymns, and links to where you can purchase them, as well as links to other good hymn resources, but no audio.  I’ll be posting quite a few of thesehymns here at Lent & Beyond in coming days and weeks…. stay tuned.

***

I notice quite a lot of folks coming to L&B looking for Easter Hymns.  I’m a lover of great Easter hymns, but sadly you might not really know it by browsing Lent & Beyond.  In recent years I’ve posted much more CCM and Contemporary worship music than hymns, primarily because my digital collection of hymns and classical music has until now been quite small.

One of the greatest blessings of the internet, iTunes, YouTube, etc., has been the ability to learn and appreciate a much wider diversity of Eastertide hymns.  In my Episcopal parish growing up, we seemed to sing the same 5 or 6 Easter hymns over and over and over again.  And while that repetition made me grow to love them deeply – they became part of me in a sense – I never realized how much I was missing…

For instance, it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s and working in French-speaking West Africa that I learned the fabulous hymn Thine Be the Glory (actually learning it first in French “A Toi la Gloire, O Ressuscité”) – now one of my absolute Easter playlist essentials!

And then of course, there are online hymnals and their Easter hymn collections which make learning new/old hymns easy these days:

With all of these resources to scour for good hymns, I devoted a fair bit of time (and a bit of money) in recent weeks to significantly increase my Easter hymn and classical music collection and creating a great Easter hymns & classical anthems playlist.

So, in case it’s a blessing and encouragement and helpful resource, here is a current list of 70 favorite Easter hymns. For each hymn I provide details for the version that’s in my playlist (artist, album, purchase link). I have not included details on composers, tune or lyrics.  In most cases you will find that information at Hymnary.org or the Cyber Hymnal.

For some hymns, I’ve included links to some alternate versions, including alternate tunes, instrumental versions, or contemporary renditions. There are a few modern hymns included – such as In Christ Alone.  The majority of these hymns are from the Anglican tradition, but I’ve thrown in a few Evangelical / Gospel type hymns as well.  My tastes are broad – any hymn that focuses on the joy and glory of Christ’s resurrection and His victory over death and His redemption of His people is fair game!

I’d love for commenters to add suggestions and tell us about your favorites!  Let’s turn this into an OPEN THREAD about memories of favorite Easter hymns… what songs do you love and why?

Note: this list includes only hymns.  I may try to create a separate post with some favorite recordings of Easter classical music, carols and anthems.

***

Below is a list of the Titles and Artists for all the hymns.  Here is a link to the Excel Spreadsheet which will give you full details on the album and a purchase link in the iTunes store (US).

Title,  Artist

  • A toi la gloire, Les petits chanteurs de Sainte-Croix de Neuilly
  • All Hail the Power – No. 1 [Instrumental – tune: Coronation], The King’s Brass & Tim Zimmerman
  • All Hail the Power (arr. Sterling Procter – tune: Diadem), The Chancel Choir, The Chapel Choir, Broadway Baptist Church and The Oratorio Chorus, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, The Festival Brass
  • Alleluia! Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven, The Choir Of Sheffield Cathedral
  • Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (with handbells), Concordia Publishing House

Read the rest of this entry »


Easter Hymns: How Shall I Sing That Majesty (Coe Fen)

April 19, 2015

 

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Back in 2012 I blogged about this hymn – having newly discovered it via a blog post by Patrick Comerford.  (Patrick Comerford later posted a much more detailed entry about this hymn here.)

This Easter, I decided to upgrade my Easter hymns playlist, and I treated myself to purchasing this hymn, choosing a version to the tune of Coe Fen, sung by Wells Cathedral Choir, from a 1999 album The English Hymn, Vol. 1 – Christ Triumphant.

Below I’ve posted a pretty good recording of this on YouTube (apologies that there is an ad)

Christ’s Hospital School singing ‘How Shall I Sing That Majesty’ to the tune of Coe Fen by Ken Naylor (CH 1980-86). It was recorded for BBC Radio 2’s Sunday Half Hour.

I much prefer the Wells Cathedral Choir version, however.

Lyrics:

1 How shall I sing that majesty
which angels do admire?
Let dust in dust and silence lie;
sing, sing, ye heavenly choir.
Thousands of thousands stand around
thy throne, O God most high;
ten thousand times ten thousand sound
thy praise; but who am I?

2 Thy brightness unto them appears,
while I thy footsteps trace;
a sound of God comes to my ears,
but they behold thy face.
They sing, because thou art their Sun;
Lord, send a beam on me;
for where heav’n is but once begun,
there alleluias be.

3 Enlighten with faith’s light my heart,
inflame it with love’s fire;
then shall I sing and bear a part
with that celestial choir.
I shall, I fear, be dark and cold,
with all my fire and light;
yet when thou dost accept their gold,
Lord, treasure up my mite.

4 How great a being, Lord, is thine,
which doth all beings keep!
Thy knowledge is the only line
to sound so vast a deep.
Thou art a sea without a shore,
a sun without a sphere;
thy time is now and evermore,
thy place is everywhere.

Learn more about this great hymn and find resources (arrangements, handbell scores, etc.) at Hymnary.org.


HELP WANTED: Searching for a hymn…. Welcome Happy Morning

April 16, 2015

Hi all,

I’m working on a post for L&B which will feature a playlist of about 30 traditional Easter hymns, something I’ve wanted to do for several years, but just hadn’t found the time to work on.  This year I’ve had a bit more time to pull this together.

There’s one Easter hymn I grew up singing, and which I’d love to add to my playlist, but which is proving VERY hard to find.

The hymn in question is Welcome Happy Morning (I’m specifically wanting a version to the tune Fortunatus).

I’ve searched iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube, etc. and can’t find a very good recording or audio of this.

There’s a YouTube video of an Easter Service at St. Barts in NYC from 2011. And also several YouTubes from St. John’s Detroit. Those are enjoyable to watch and I’m glad to find them, but the audio quality is not very good… one can hardly understand the words, and there’s lots of background noise.

I’d really like to find a professional  recording of this hymn for purchase (preferably as an mp3 download, but I’m open to buying a CD if there are other good hymns included!).   I’d love any leads or suggestions our readers might be able to offer.  iTunes and Amazon in the U.S. only have instrumental recordings, no choral version.

Thanks in advance for any help!  Leave info in the comments.  I would have a way to buy recordings in the UK through some of my work colleagues…


Music for Easter (Pascha): Paschal Canon Odes 1 & 3, Byzantine Choir of St. George Cathedral

April 15, 2015

 

Great&HolyPaschaBrowsing Easter music on iTunes the other day, I came across an excellent Orthodox Easter recording Great and Holy Pascha by the Byzantine Choir of St. George Orthodox Cathedral (in Pittsburgh, PA). Here’s their website.

Odes 1 and 3 of the Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus are available in a YouTube video, which I really enjoyed.  I found the description accompanying the video particularly helpful – the words are powerful and rich, and they make a great devotional reflection.

I’ve posted that description below the YouTube video.  Note that the words don’t correspond exactly to the chant.

Verse and Hymn from the Orthodox Resurrection service – 1st and 3rd Ode chanted in the 1st Tone.

Easter is the greatest festival of the Christian year in the Orthodox Church and the Easter services abound with joyful celebration. Thus it is no surprise that the overarching theme of the Canon is the resurrection and the renewal of creation through the power of Christ who has taken upon our humanity and restored it. Also, the idea of the soul being released from the bondage of sin and the corporeal body through the Resurrection of Christ is emphasized. The second Ode is omitted due to its sombre ethos which does not fit in with the joyful mood of Pascha.

The first ode sets the scene by exclaiming that it is the ‘Day of Resurrection!’ and thus a time for rejoicing and celebrating what the Lord has done. It is the Lord’s Pascha which has ‘brought us from death to life’ and thus has brought us from earth to heaven. This is also reminiscent of Moses leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea to the Promised Land which is now our heaven. The only response that is expected from us, and not only us, but all creation, including angels (cf. Ode 5), is to sing with joyful cries the “triumphant hymns!” and to enjoy the feast; for “Christ our eternal joy has risen!”

The third Ode which is based on the barrenness of Hannah from the Old Testament, which is now renewed, and the barren rock that Moses smote and brought forth water for the “thirsty congregation and their beasts” is now done for us. Christ is the fountain of immortality who offers a drink of “a new beverage”. There are also overtones of baptism in this Ode; “fountain of Incorruption springing from the tomb of Christ” and that “I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee” which are real acts enacted physically and spiritually during Baptism where a person dies with Christ in order to arise with Him after immersion.

English version:

Ode 1

Eirmos: It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us be radiant, O people! Pascha! The Lord’s Pascha! For Christ our God has brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing triumphant hymns!

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead. (before each troparion).

Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with inaccessible light of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him saying clearly, “Rejoice!” As we sing the triumphant hymns!

Let heavens rejoice in a worthy manner, the earth be glad, and the whole world, visible and the invisible, keep the Feast. For Christ our eternal joy has risen!

katavasia: It is the Day of Resurrection!…

Ode 3

Eirmos: Come, let us drink a new beverage, not miraculously drawn from a barren rock, but the fountain of Incorruption springing from the tomb of Christ in Whom we are established.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth, and the nethermost regions. So let all creation celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, whereby it is established.
Yesterday, O Christ, I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Savior, with Thee in Thy Kingdom.

katavasia: Come, let us drink…

Hypakoe: When at dawn, the women with Mary came and found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, they heard from the angel: Why seek among the dead (as if He were a mortal man) Him Who lives in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Run and tell the world that the Lord is risen, and has slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saves mankind.


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