The Lent and Easter season is my favorite time of the year to attend church. Not that I don't enjoy worshiping in church at other times of the year, but I always look forward to Lent church services, as somber as they tend to be. Obviously one reason I love this part of the church calendar is Easter itself, and what it means for my (and every Christian's) life.
But there's another reason I love Easter church services: the music. I absolutely love the traditional hymns of Easter—more than any other seasonal worship music (although Thanksgiving comes in a close second).
At the top of my list of Easter music is, without question, Ah, Holy Jesus, How Cast Thou Offended (listen to the mp3). The lyrics and music are just beautiful, and no matter how many times I hear it, this verse always threatens to reduce me to an emotional wreck:
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon Thee?
Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.
'Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!
I crucified Thee.
And it concludes with these amazing lines:
Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay Thee,
I do adore Thee, and will ever pray Thee,
Think on Thy pity and Thy love unswerving,
Not my deserving.
Another one that makes me want to weep with joy everytime I sing it is And Can It Be? (mp3) by the great Charles Wesley. I'm actually not sure if this is technically considered an Easter song, but my church always sang it during Lent, and the words certainly fit. I love the lyrics of this verse, although modern versions of the song often change the words to make them more accessible:
Long my imprisoned sprit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature's night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
And the closing verse to this one is just as good. By the time I get to it, I usually find that the volume of my singing has unconsciously increased until I am essentially bellowing out the final lines at the top of my lungs. I just can't help it:
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th'eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
You know, I like "My God is an Awesome God" (repeat chorus 10x!) as much as anybody else, but the poetry and style of the above lyrics transcend what you find in modern praise music by several orders of magnitude.
Songsandhymns.org has quite a few more Easter (and other) classics. What about you? Anybody else share my fanatical love for Easter music? What are your favorites?