Hymnody helps make the season(s)

AnastasiI’ve joked this week with a couple of friends that if their church didn’t sing either ‘Christ the Lord Is Risen Today‘ or ‘Jesus Christ Is Risen Today‘, they didn’t ‘have Easter’. This, of course, isn’t really fair, but it’s interesting how deeply hymns can affect one’s experience of the feasts of the church year. For me, a great lover of Easter, no amount of confetti (actually used at an Edinburgh church), no size of chocolate egg (giant egg actually present at another Edinbugh church) can really make the festival feel complete without the ‘right’ hymns (plus the ancient, universal Easter acclamation — Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!). A sermon on the Resurrection is always good (that [Anglican] church in Toronto that once preached on the Good Samaritan one Easter Sunday missed the ball there), as are Easter lilies.

But for me, Easter without the ‘right’ hymns is like … Christmas with no presents. Or something.

Easter is not alone.

Good Friday requires ‘O Sacred Head‘, does it not?

Palm Sunday would seem off without ‘All Glory, Laud, and Honour‘ and ‘Ride On, Ride on in Majesty‘.

And what of Ash Wednesday without ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights‘?

Christmas carols and Advent hymns obviously make the season, so I’ll skip them.

In Toronto, we went to Little Trinity Anglican Church, and what makes Trinity Sunday there is the singing of ‘St Patrick’s Breasplate‘.

Long after the chocolate has been eaten, the lilies have withered, the sermon has been mostly forgotten, the hymns — the beautiful, triumphant Easter hymns — stay with us, dancing through our minds and hearts, drawing us to our risen Saviour.

They are a blessing and to be highly esteemed.

Palm Sunday: All Glory, Laud, and Honour

Refrain

All glory, laud and honour,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.

Refrain

The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.

Refrain

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.

Refrain

To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

Refrain

Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

Refrain

-Theodulph of Orléans (c. 820), trans. John Mason Neale

The Triumphal Entry by Giotto (d. 1337)