The widely observed day recalls the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, three days after being executed on a hill known as Golgotha, which was just outside of Jerusalem.
Observances held both in-person and virtually are expected to include a diverse array of musical pieces celebrating the most significant event in Christianity.
Here, in no particular order, are some powerful hymns to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection, many of which are notable and often used for worship services on Easter Sunday, especially in western churches
‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today’
Written by 18th century prolific Methodist hymn-writer Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is oft used at Easter Sunday services in churches around the World.
“There have been some changes over the years, and the song you are most familiar with is likely different than Wesley’s original composition,” explained the website Reasonable Theology.
“Originally the song consisted of eleven stanzas, without the ‘Alleluias!’ that echoes throughout the unfolding celebration of Christ’s Resurrection.”
“Although many hymnals feature a much shorter version of this hymn – often just four stanzas – versions of this hymn have been enthusiastically sung in Easter services for over 280 years.”
‘Thine be the Glory’
The hymn “Thine be the Glory” was written by Edmond L. Budry in the 19th century and was first published in Chants Evangeliques in Lausanne, Switzerland, 1885, under the name “A Toi la Gloire.”
It was later translated into English in 1925 by Richard B. Hoyle for the Cantate Domino Hymnal, which was the hymnal of the World Student Christian Federation, according to The Center for Church Music.
‘Up From the Grave He Arose’
Baptist preacher and educator Robert Lowry of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote “Up From the Grave He Arose” in 1874, also going under the names “Low in the Grave He Lay” and “Christ Arose.”
Lowry was also responsible for writing the famous hymns “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” and “Shall We Gather at the River” and served as music editor at the Biglow Publishing Company.
“The centerpiece of the song is the textual and musical contrast between the stanzas and the refrain,” wrote C. Michael Hawn, professor of sacred music at Perkins School of Theology.
“The dirge-like stanzas in block chords with a melody that plods in a step-wise fashion give way to a rhythmic refrain that surges up like a trumpet blast.”
‘Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah’
Commonly sung at the end of Easter Sunday worship services around the World, the “Hallelujah Chorus” from George Frederick Handel’s Messiah is a widely known song.
The 18th century work, still often used in modern popular culture to note great celebration, was composed by Handel over the span of less than a month.
“Legend has it that when King George II first heard the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus during a performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ in London, he stood to his feet in reverence, which thus compelled the rest of the crowd to stand,” explained the Southeast Outlook.
“More than 250 years later, crowds still rise to their feet upon hearing the first notes of ‘Hallelujah,’ often performed by church choirs during Christmas and Easter celebrations.”
‘In Christ Alone’
By far the youngest song on this list, “In Christ Alone” was released in 2001 by British worship leaders Keith Getty of Northern Ireland and Stuart Townend of England.
The hymn garnered controversy in some circles, including the Presbyterian Church USA, for the line “’Til on the cross as Jesus died / the wrath of God was satisfied.”
In defending the lyrics, Getty remarked that “altering the lyrics would remove an essential part of the gospel story as explained throughout Scripture.”
“The main thread of what we see revealed throughout the Old and New Testament is the need for man to be made right with God,” said Getty, as recounted by music professor C. Michael Hawn.
“The provided path toward reconciliation came through Christ’s predetermined and perfect sacrifice on the cross, satisfying God’s wrath once and for all.”