He is Risen!

I went to my first ever Easter sunrise service today, and it was so beautiful and special to sing and hear of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, while watching a gorgeous sunrise over the bay.

1. Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!

Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!

Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!

Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

2. Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!

Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!

Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!

Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

3. Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!

Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!

Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!

Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

4. Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!

Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!

Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

5. Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!

Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!

Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!

Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

6. Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!

Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!

Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!

Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

7. King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!

Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!

Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!

Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

8. Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!

Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!

Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!

Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

9. But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!

Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!

Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!

Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

10. Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!

Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!

Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!

Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia

by Charles Wesley
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Easter Song: “Man of Sorrows”

This is one of my favorite hymns. I think I posted it last year, but it definitely deserves repeating.

1. ‘Man of sorrows!’ what a name

For the Son of God who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim!

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2. Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood,

Seal’d my pardon with His blood;

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3. Guilty vile, and helpless we,

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

Full atonement! can it be?

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4. Lifted up was He to die,

‘It is finished,’ was His cry;

Now in heav’n exalted high,

Hallelujah, What a Savior!

5. When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew this song we’ll sing,

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

I recently heard David Potter‘s new tune and recording of this song. Here’s the acoustic version.

Christmas music, part 6

I purposefully saved this last topic for the end of the series, because I view Handel’s Messiah as the epitome of Christmas music. (Note: I realize it would have made a lot more sense to post this earlier in December, but I didn’t have time to pull all of these resources together earlier in December.) I purchased the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir’s recording this year and have enjoyed listening to it repeatedly. I love that the text of the Messiah is Scripture and that in 2 hours and 20 minutes the Messiah tells the story of the prophecies of Christ’s birth, His incarnation, His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His power to break us free of sin, and His second coming. What a wonderful way to tell this amazing and incredible story!

Today, I just want to list some resources for you as you read about, listen to, or sing along with Handel’s Messiah.

I have fond memories of going to Messiah sings with my dad and of the performances and annual sings in my voice performance class at BJU. If you’re interested, you can get a free score here.

I’ve also found these websites helpful whenever I want to look something up about the Messiah: the program notes on National Public Radio, the program notes from the Oratorio Society of New York, and the very thorough notes and textual comparisons on Minnesota Public Radio.

This month, the audiobook Handel’s Messiah by Calvin R. Stapert is free on christianaudio.com (sorry for the late notice!).

You may have already seen this video (since the one I’m posting has had over 6,800,000 hits), but I get goosebumps every time I watch it. It’s amazing to hear such glorious praise to God being sung in this cathedral-like shopping center.

This one is pretty cool too and has had over 28,000,000 hits!

Christmas music, part 4

After listing my favorite Christmas songs and cds a couple of days ago, I realized that I have few traditional Christmas carols on the list. I like a lot of the traditional songs, but I have few good recordings of the old hymns and my favorite carols. So, as I was scanning through my iTunes looking for good songs to list, those traditional songs didn’t immediately come to mind. I always enjoy singing the doctrinally sound Christmas songs in church or in my devotional times, but I don’t have any recordings–or no great recordings–of some of these songs!

I admit that I’m a little bit picky about what makes a great recording of a hymn or Christmas carol. I have one recording of the King’s College Choir singing many of the old songs, but the tempo of the songs is extremely slow, the arrangements seem to be straight from the hymnbook, and the accompaniment is just organ; I’m sure the carol sing was lovely as a live concert in an ancient cathedral, but it didn’t carry over well as a recording.

Continue reading

Christmas music, part 2

I love that there’s such a great variety of Christmas songs and styles of performing them. I’ve been wanting to post a list of my favorite Christmas songs/cds for a while now. First comes the list of old favorites (from my childhood or long-time favorites), then a list of new songs I’ve become acquainted with in the last year or two. I’ve just lumped all secular and sacred songs together for now.

Old favorites, listed in no particular order:

  1. “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby–This is a classic! I love the movie, too, and watch it several times every Christmas.
  2. “Jingle Bells” by Frank Sinatra
  3. “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole–I don’t know if anyone can beat the original recording.
  4. Noel by Canadian Brass–I love the whole cd, but especially “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen,” “The Holly and the Ivy,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” “Tuba Lullaby” and “Happy Christmas”
  5. The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky
  6. Handel’s Messiah
  7. A Little Christmas Music by The King’s Singers–I especially like “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” “Riu, Riu, Chiu,” “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” and “Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen” (“Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming”).  The King’s Singers do some neat arrangements of familiar carols and introduce listeners to older carols or songs from other countries and traditions.
  8. “Sleigh Ride” as recorded on the Boston Pops’s Holiday Pops

New favorites, again listed in no particular order:

  1. Noel by Josh Groban–I like “Little Drummer Boy,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Petit Papa Noël,” “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” “The First Noël,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
  2. “O Holy Night” by Il Divo–big, powerful arrangement
  3. “Born That We May Have Life” by Chris Tomlin
  4. Savior by Sovereign Grace Ministries
  5. “O Come” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Chris Sligh
  6. “Mary, Did You Know” by Clay Aiken
  7. Selected songs from All I Want for Christmas by Straight No Chaser, for example, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Christmastime is Here”
  8. New Irish Hymns #3-Incarnation by Joanne Hogg, Kristyn Getty & Margaret Becker–I love all the songs on this cd and we’ve sung several at church this year.
  9. “Pat-a-Pan” by David Archuleta
  10. Peace by Jim Brickman–I especially like “Peace” and “Rejoice”

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs and recordings?

Christmas music, part 3

I’m going to sound like the Grinch in this post, but oh well. I’ll write another positive Christmas post soon.

Christmas songs I really don’t like:

  1. “Silver Bells”–the melody is terrible, and older recordings sound particularly awful.
  2. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”–I’ve never liked this song because of the suggestive lyrics, although my roommate swears if I saw the original movie this is from that I would like it; however, I recently saw Glee’s performance of this and now the song is permanently ruined for me. (FYI, I watched a couple episodes of Glee because my students always talk about it or hum songs from the show, so I was curious what it was all about. The show is simply horrid. I’ll never watch it again and I’ll speak loudly against it anytime it comes up in conversation.)
  3. “I’ll be Home for Christmas”–I cry almost every time I hear this song, especially since I haven’t been home for Christmas in 5 years now. Who wants to be majorly depressed when listening to Christmas music?
  4. “The Coventry Carol (Lully, Lulla)”–The same goes for this song. The melody is haunting, but that’s because the song is about Herod killing all of the babies in Bethlehem. Yes, it’s biblical, but it’s awfully sad and depressing for a Christmas song.
  5. Pretty much any Ron Hamilton or Frank Garlock Christmas song–I think years of their cheesy cantatas ruined these songs for me. And the lyrics aren’t that great for sacred songs.

Songs that show up on Christmas cds, but have nothing to do with Christmas (or winter, even):

  1. “Over the Rainbow”
  2. “My Favorite Things”
  3. “The Lord’s Prayer” (I especially love Andrea Boccelli’s performance of this song, but it’s not a Christmas song.)
  4. “Simple Gifts”–just because a song has the word “gift” in it does not mean it’s a Christmas song
  5. “Edelweiss”

What are some Christmas songs you don’t like? I know, it sounds slightly scandalous to admit you don’t like a Christmas song, but I’m sure there are some that annoy you for one reason or another.

Can you think of any other songs performed on Christmas cds that aren’t Christmas-y? Why do you think they are included? I think they sometimes add to the festive, sweet, simple, or magical mood of the cd, but I’m interested in hearing what you think.