John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Songs for Easter

Every Easter, my church and the Baptist church across the street come together at 7 AM for what we like to call, for some reason, the sunrise service. This year's service featured some of my favorite hymns and anthems.

The Holy City is a venerable piece of Victorian schmaltz. Which is a good thing! I'm very fond of Victorian schmaltz. The Holy City is something of a sunrise service tradition; whenever my church, one of the sopranos from the choir and I sing it as a duet.

The Holy City
by F.E. Weatherly

Last night I lay a-sleeping
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there.
I heard the children singing,
And ever as they sang,
Methought the voice of angels
From heav'n in answer rang.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Lift up your gates and sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And then methought my dream was chang'd,
The streets no longer rang,
Hush'd were the glad Hosannas
The little children sang.
The sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill,
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Hark! How the angels sing,
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna to your King!

And once again the scene was chang'd;
New earth there seemed to be;
I saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea;
The light of God was on its streets,
The gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter,
And no one was denied.
No need of moon or stars by night,
Or sun to shine by day;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Sing for the night is o'er!
Hosanna in the highest!
Hosanna for evermore!


"Spread the News" is a hymn our pastor brought home with him after serving for twenty years as a missionary in Iran. The text is by the first Iranian bishop of the Episcopal Church in Iran, and it's set to an old Armenian wedding song. It was written specifically to be sung at Easter sunrise services.

Spread the News
by Hasssan B. Dehqani-Tafti
trans. Lewis Johnson

Spread the news that our world is renewed through and through;
Earth from slumber so deep wakes to brightness anew!
See the heavens ablaze with the colors of dawn;
And the heavens do laugh as their weeping is gone.
See how nature once dead comes alive out of night,
How the sun o'er the land casts a mantle of light;
For the Christ, who for us took the place of a slave,
Gave us freedom and life as he rose from the grave.

Spread the news! Look abroad! He has risen to reign!
Now at last heav'n is opened to Earth once again.
Now that death's power is spent and is vanquished for aye,
Who should fear any storm, who now cringe in dismay?
Lift your eyes to the hills! Greet the bright morning sun!
Now our hearts and our souls are renewed, made as one.
See the tomb is laid bare, 'tis the work of God's hand;
See out Jesus now ris'n! In this faith may we stand!


"I Danced in the Morning" is, if not my favorite hymn, certainly in my top five. There are few hymns that are as upbeat and joyful as this one, which is odd because at it's heart the story of Jesus is about as upbeat and joyful as a story can get. I also find it interesting that it is the only hymn I know of that is in first person from Jesus's perspective.

I Danced in the Morning
by Sydney Carter

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,
And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun.
And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth;
At Bethlehem I had My birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance said He,
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I'll lead you all in the dance, said He.

I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,
but they would not dance and they would not follow Me
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John;
They came with Me and the dance went on.


I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame;
the holy people said it was a shame.
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high
And left Me there on a cross to die.


I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
It's hard to dance with the devil on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I'd gone;
But I am the dance and I still go on.


They Cut Me down and I leap up high;
I am the life that will never, never die.
I'll live in you if you'll live in Me:
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.


Tags: poet's corner, religion

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