- Regarding worship music, we were still singing hymns in most traditional churches on Easter Sunday morning in 1994.
Where were you on Easter Sunday, 1994?
It’s always fun to look back in time and given our rich historical archives that date back to the 80s, we have a unique perspective on Christian worship music history. A lot of our readers weren’t born in 1994 so it may not feel relevant to today, but remember that the past can teach us about the present. What problems were we facing, what songs were we singing, what messages was the Holy Spirit giving to the church in 1994 and how does that history apply to today?
Regarding worship music, we were still singing hymns in most traditional churches on Easter Sunday morning in 1994. Even though Keith Green and the Maranatha! Praise Band had already been around for 15 years, worship setlists were mostly focused on hymns.
Why Are Hymns Important?
- They are simple and written specifically for congregational worship, which lends to ease of adoption and singability.
- They are usually vertical, bringing all the glory back to the Creator and pointing to his transcendence, his goodness, his character, his love, and to the peace we can have in the fact that his ways are higher.
- Hymns also remind us that our faith is not 30 minutes old and during a celebration like Easter, where Christians have gathered for centuries to mark the arrival of the living God who came to save the lost, hymns remind us that we are part of a much bigger story. The earliest recorded observance of an Easter celebration comes from the 2nd century, that’s 2000 years ago, though the commemoration of Jesus’ Resurrection probably occurred earlier. [source]
- Hymns tell a story. Take, for example, Amazing Grace.
Newton’s original lyrics contain a series of six stanzas. He begins at conversion, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound…How precious did that grace appear, The hour I first believed,” and then moves to the present experience of, “Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come…” Then he expresses hope in God’s Word, “The Lord has promis’d good to me, His Word my hope secures…” and then finally concludes with eschatology, “Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail…The earth shall soon dissolve like snow…Will be forever mine.”
Hymns have a narrative movement. They tell a story we can embrace and live. [source]
So, here’s the list of the top 10 songs sung on Easter morning in 1994 and 9 of the 10 are hymns.
All Glory, Laud and Honor – St. Theodulph – 820
All Glory, Laud, and Honor is perhaps the quintessential Palm Sunday entrance hymn – – warm up those pipe organs! It was originally written in Latin in the 9th century by Theodulph of Orleans (ca. 750-821) and then the English translation was by John Mason Neale (1818-1866). [source] One would have to look far and wide for a hymn more rooted in Western historical and cultural traditions and in 1994, it was the #1 Easter hymn.
Hosanna – Don Besig – 1988
Don Besig taught public school music for 31 years in western New York. His concert choral groups and show choirs earned excellent reputations for their performances at clinics, contests, and community events.
Recognizing a need for choral music written especially for student singers and volunteer church choirs, Mr. Besig began composing for his own choral groups. Over 350 of his original compositions and arrangements have been released by leading publishers of school and church music. More than 15 million copies of his works have been sold. [source]
Jesus Christ Is Risen Today – 1708
From 1994 to now, and likely from the early 1700s when this song was written to now, Easter is not complete in most traditional churches without singing this hymn.
Jesus Christ is Risen Today was first written in Latin titled “Surrexit Christus hodie.” The English translation, along with the tune, first appeared in a collection of Psalms and Hymns called Lyra Davidica, or a Collection of Divine Songs and Hymns (John Walsh) published in 1708. The verses of the hymn were later revised in 1749 by John Arnold. In 1740 Charles Wesley also added a fourth verse to the hymn as an alternative, which was later adopted as part of it. [source]
Let The Bells Ring Out – David Lantz III
This particular hymn and arrangement by Lantz proved nearly impossible to find on YouTube. Yes, there are songs that haven’t yet made it to YouTube. If anyone can find a link, comment below so we can update this article. The only reference to the song we could find was from Handbell World and they said, “Bells accompany the larger part of this Easter anthem that begins with the text: “Let the bells ring out! Let the people shout! The Lord is ris’n today.”
Here’s what may be a version of the song, but arranged for church bells!
On This Day, The First Of Days – 1745
Sir Henry Williams Baker translated this hymn (1821-1877). This is a translation of a Latin Office Hymn found in the Carcassonne Breviary of 1745 and in other Breviaries (Cahors, 1746, Le Mans, 1748). It was designated for use on Sundays from Pentecost to Advent. [source]
Rise Again – Dallas Holm – 1977
If you were an Evangelical that stepped foot into a church in the 90s on Easter Sunday, you likely heard this song. Rise Again is NOT a hymn. This rendition found on YouTube has over a million views, so the song still resonates with a large audience. From the first verse, the story is described in a way that forces listeners to empathize with the overwhelming humiliation that Jesus experienced while on the cross.
Go ahead, drive the nails in my hands
Laugh at me where you stand
Go ahead, and say it isn’t me
The day will come, when you will see!
‘Cause I’ll rise again
Ain’t no power on earth can tie me down
Yes, I’ll rise again
Death can’t keep me in the ground!
Go ahead, and mock my name
My love for you is still the same
Go ahead, and bury me
But very soon I will be free!
The Palms – J. Faure – 1864
This is a hymn for Palm Sunday. It was originally written in French as “Les rameaux” and was originally published in 1864 by French art collector, operatic baritone, and composer Jean-Baptiste Fauré (1830–1914). An early English translation “Palm-Branches” was published by Oliver Ditson Co., Boston in “Gems of English Song” in 1875. [source]
In this version, the Cello, played by Yang Hee-Jong, “sings” the lead.
The Strife Is O’re – W. H. Monk (Noel Goemanne) – 1600s
This is one of the hymns on this list that continues to be popular amongst a lot of Anglican Churches to this day. The Strife Is O’re, The Battle Done was originally a 17th-century Latin hymn, “Finita iam sunt proelia”; the popular English-language version is an 1861 translation by the English hymn writer Francis Pott. This amazing rendition was recorded virtually in 2020 by The Episcopal Church Virtual Choir and Orchestra.
The Trumpet Shall Sound On Easter Morn – 1741
From Handel’s Messiah, The Trumpet Shall Sound On Easter Morn is a Baritone’s dream solo. It’s a classic that’s been recorded by the best choirs and orchestras in the world. This version was done by the Trinity Wall Street Church Baroque Orchestra with Philippe Sly singing lead and Julian Wachner conducting. Only in New York would you find an Episcopal parish with a thriving Baroque orchestra and a Wall Street address.
Ye Sons and Daughters – 1494
Ye Sons and Daughters is a hymn written by Jean Tisserand, who died in 1494, in Paris, France. A Franciscan monk, Tisserand founded an order for penitent women. He is also said to have written a worship service commemorating Franciscans martyred in Morocco in 1220.
We hope and pray that you and your family have a wonderful Easter holiday and that this journey back in time will serve as a reminder to you that you’re part of a much bigger family with a rich and deep history.
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