I’ve often wondered why Easter music hasn’t “caught on” with the public like Christmas music has. Walk into any mall during December and you’ll hear a continual medley of sacred and secular carols being piped through the speakers. But it’s not the same for Easter. It can’t be due to the fact that it’s a distinctly Christian holiday since Christmas is too. It’s also not due to the fact that Christmas music might be older, because most Easter music is older than most Christmas carols.

At a previous parish, the rector had the rule that the postlude for every funeral was some sort of improvisation on the tune Victory “The strife is o’er, the battle done.” My first year in that position, I became a little tired of playing it at the end of every funeral, even though I like both the text and tune. However, it was at my first Easter there, when we sang that hymn, that I came to really recognize how much it resonated with the parish. Everyone sang that hymn with more fervor and spirit than anything I had heard previously. I remarked on this afterwards and someone told me that they considered it the parish’s “fight song.” It served as a reminder that death did not have the last word. And, when the hymn was sung on Easter, it reminded the entire parish of those we had buried the past year but who now lived in the certain knowledge of the resurrection.

Admittedly, some Easter hymns are more beloved than others. I confess to some confusion why certain Easter hymns are as popular as they are. And there are other Easter hymns that I think deserve to be better known. One of my favorite Easter hymns that is not well known is found as #190, “Lift your voice rejoicing, Mary” set to a perfect tune by Thomas Foster.

 Lift your voice rejoicing, Mary, Christ has risen from the tomb;

On the cross a suffering victim, now as victor he is come.

Whom your tears in death were mourning, welcome with your smiles returning.

Let your alleluias rise!

 

Raise your weary eyelids, Mary, see him living evermore;

See his countenance, how gracious, see the wounds for you he bore.

All the glory of the morning pales before those wounds redeeming.

Let your alleluias rise!

 

Life is yours for ever, Mary, for your light is come once more

And the strength of death is broken; now your songs of joy outpour.

Ended now the night of sorrow, love has brought the blessed morrow.

Let your alleluias rise!