What are 5 of the greatest hymns of faith for Easter or Resurrection Sunday in my opinion? What is some background information on the writing of these hymns?
He Lives by Alfred Ackley (1887-1960)
This is one of the most popular Easter hymns of all time. Some of these lyrics continue to inspire us today and include words such as:
I serve a risen Savior,
He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
Alfred Ackley showed great potential even at a young age with the piano and cello and eventually served as a pastor in several states in the U.S. His father sent him to the Royal Academy of Music in London and he later went on to graduate at Westminster Theological Seminary in Maryland. This gifted man was so passionate for the Lord that he went on to write over 1,500 lyrics and/or scores for religious and even some secular songs. Ackley’s main inspiration for writing “He Lives” is his right belief that the resurrection gives us evidence that Jesus is God and that God cannot die but also gives the believer the hope of his or her own resurrection someday.
Hail the Day that sees Him Rise by Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan
This song was extremely popular when it was released in 2006 by Hillsong Church and which lyrics focus on God’s glorious light and His glory as the Risen King in Christ:
Shine your light and let the whole world see;
We’re singing, for the glory of the risen king.
This song was inspired by the glory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the light of the world that He is to all mankind (John 1). The lyrics praise the might of Jesus as being the only hope of the world and that as God, He is able to move mountains and valleys by His spoken Word, and thus He has conquered the grave because the grave couldn’t hold the Sinless One.
Blessed Redeemer by Casting Crowns
Have you ever heard this song? I have seen this song on YouTube placed against clips of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. We played this clip and song during our worship services one time and it moved many, me included, to tears. It is one of the most moving songs of all time and reflects on just how much Jesus gave and must be part of the story of Easter or Resurrection Sunday for the death and suffering of Christ at Calvary is incomplete without His resurrection. The lyrics give us sound theological thought for just how much our Redeemer paid:
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.
This is not the same song by the same name that was written by the amazing and godly woman songwriter, Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), but is just as inspirational as the one performed by Casting Crowns.
Messiah by Handel (1685-1759)
This may be the single, greatest hymn of all time, if you could call it a hymn. Handel’s Messiah is one of the most recognized songs of all time. This great song was composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel using Scriptures from the King James Bible so Handel’s inspiration behind this amazing song was the Bible itself! The lyrics have moved countless people across the pages of history with truly inspirational lyrics such as:
And he shall reign forever and ever;
King of Kings
for ever and ever
and Lord of Lords
And of course the most famous of lines;
Those who first heard this song were said to weep in their seats and they are still weeping today upon hearing the glorious chorus of praise to our Mighty King and Lord of lords, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”
Crown Him with Many Crowns by Matthew Bridges & Godfrey Thring
The story behind this hymn being written during the 1800’s was when there was great tension between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church. Ironically, the song was originally written by Matthew Bridges (1800-1894) who also wrote a book condemning the Catholic Church but then he later converted to Catholicism. Meanwhile, Godfrey Thring (1823-1903) was a devout Anglican clergyman who was concerned that this hymn was allowing Catholic theology to infiltrate the Anglican Church and so he added six new stanzas for, what he believed, would ensure the soundness of doctrine taught by the Anglican Church and which included the stanzas of:
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
Much of the rest of the song doesn’t appear to detract from any of the Bible verses that proclaim His death and resurrection and include:
Awake my soul and sing
Of Him who died for thee
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity
His glories now we sing
Who died and rose on high
Who died eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die
It is my sincere hope that this can help you focus in on Christ and just how important Jesus’ resurrection is because “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor 15:12-13) and “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:17-19) but since we know He was raised from the dead, our faith is not in vain and we too will be raised someday…and then we can also proclaim, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”
Here are some more hymns to consider: 10 Great Easter Hymns for Resurrection Sunday