As a general rule, each month I teach one new or more unfamiliar hymn (or occasionally two) to our congregation. (In March, it was a newly written hymn, “Come to the Waters,” by James Montgomery Boice and Paul Jones.) Looking toward Easter, I wanted to suggest a number of hymns that might be unfamiliar but are worth your time to examine.
“Jesus Lives and So Shall I” I highlighted this outstanding hymn here. If your congregation doesn’t know it already, it would be a wonderful gift to them this Easter. “Jesus lives, I know full well / Nought from him my heart can sever, / Life nor death nor powers of hell, / Joy nor grief, henceforth forever. / None of all his saints is lost; / Jesus is my Hope and Trust.”
“Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” This hymn is by Martin Luther and was harmonized by J. S. Bach. An outstanding text. “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands, / For our offenses given; / But now at God’s right hand He stands, / And brings us life from Heaven.”
“Come, Let Us With Our Lord Arise” By Charles Wesley, this text may be set to Ralph Vaughn Williams’s SUSSEX CAROL (a more familiar tune, but one that might have distracting Christmas connotations for those who know “On Christmas Night, All Christians Sing”) or, perhaps better, OLD 113TH or ASCENDIT DEUS. “He rose, the prince of life and peace, / and stamped the day forever his.”
“Awake, My Heart, With Gladness” This hymn is by Paul Gerhardt, to the tune AUF, AUF, MEIN HERZ by Johann Crüger. “He rends death’s iron chain, / He breaks through sin and pain, / He shatters hell’s dark thrall, / I follow Him through all.”
“This Joyful Eastertide” An outstanding song. “Had Christ, that once was slain, ne’er burst his three-day prison, our faith would be in vain. But now has Christ arisen!” My wife and I sang this in a mixed quartet, and enjoyed it thoroughly.
“Christ the Lord Is Risen Again” This work by Michael Weisse was translated from the German by Catherine Winkworth (look at page 37). “He, who bore all pain and loss / Comfortless upon the cross, / Lives in glory now on high, / Pleads for us, and hears our cry; / Alleluia!”