Easter is a time of great celebration for anyone in the church. It is the celebration of the moment that defines us as Christians: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died a sinner’s death so that we wouldn’t have to, and He rose again so that we could live forever with Him.
There is no shortage of music – from the ancient to the modern – for your church to choose from for an Easter service or concert. But sometimes the choices can be almost overwhelming, and you may not know where to start with your music selection. I’ve put together a top ten list of some of my favorite Easter songs – some older traditional hymns, and some more modern worship songs. If you’re searching for Easter songs for your church or ministry, I hope this list can give you a place to start.
How deep the Father’s Love for us?
Many Christian artists over the past few decades have sung this song. The song is about how God loved us enough to have His only Son die in our place. The last verse is the beauty of Easter: “It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished.”
We Welcome Glad Easter
This classic hymn is short and simple, with verses in rhyming couplets. It’s a song that would be suitable for a congregation, a praise team, or a choir of most any size or age group. It’s an uncomplicated song that tells the Easter story. For example, the third verse says: “We sing of the angel who said: ‘Do not fear! Your Savior is risen, and He is not here.’”
Blessed Redeemer by Casting Crowns
Slow and meditative, this song by Casting Crowns reflects on the suffering Jesus endured on the cross. My favorite lyrics:
“Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer, seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree. Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading. Blind and unheeding, dying for me.”
Hope’s Song by Rebecca St. James
This song, performed by Rebecca St. James, is from the Veggie Tales movie “An Easter Carol,” but the song isn’t just for kids. The song tells the story of Jesus’ life on earth, from His birth to His death and resurrection. The last line is all about Easter: “He died for us to give us life, and to give us hope he rose.”
Outrageous Love by Krissy Nordhoff
This song focuses on the love of God – His outrageous love – which is the whole reason behind Easter: “Outrageous Love. It wasn’t the nails, you see, that held Him to the tree.”
Crown Him with Many Crowns
This hymn dates to the mid 1800s, but it’s just as valid today as it was when it was written, because it’s all about Jesus’ majesty. The lyrics speak of crowning Jesus the “Lord of life,” “Lord of peace,” and “Lord of love.” It’s a beautiful praise song that is appropriate for any time of year, but especially for Easter.
When Morning Gilds the Skies
This English hymn is a translation of an older German hymn. This is another song of praise that could be used at any time of the year, but as it celebrates the joy and life that Jesus brings, it makes for good Easter hymn. My favorite lyrics: “The night becomes as day when from the heart we say: May Jesus Christ be praised!”
Up from the Grave He Arose
This 19th century hymn is another classic song that’s short and to the point – but not lacking in power or meaning. The refrain of this hymn is a perfect summary of Easter: /
“Up from the grave he arose; with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever, with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
Jesus Christ is Risen Today
This is the oldest hymn that I have on this list. It was originally a Latin hymn that dates to the 14th century. The 18th century composer Charles Wesley turned it into the hymn we know today, and he also wrote a very similar hymn titled “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Either one is quite appropriate for an Easter celebration.
Hallelujah Chorus by Handel
This well-known choral piece is usually sung at Christmastime. But when the German composer Handel wrote his oratorio “Messiah” in the 1700s, the Hallelujah Chorus was placed at the end of the second part of the piece after Jesus returns from the grave. It’s certainly appropriate enough to sing at Christmas, but since it was originally intended as music for the Easter part of Christ’s story, it’s even more fitting to have your church sing it on Resurrection Sunday.
Of course there are so many other hymns and songs that could go on this list. My hope is that if you’re searching for music ideas for Easter, this list can at least give you something to start with. Do you have a personal favorite hymn for Resurrection Sunday?