Music Note The Hymnal 1982 and the authorized supplements to it (like Wonder, Love and Praise; Voices Found; and Lift Every Voice and Sing II) contain an amazing wealth of beauty and belief for Episcopalians. Inevitably, some important and beautiful hymns (words and tunes) have to be omitted from our services since we can only sing so many hymns. But the riches of The Hymnal 1982 can also be used as a source of meditation and prayer. So I have chosen two important Easter melodies, that we do not usually sing, on which to base some of my organ preludes and postludes this Easter season.
CHRIST IST ERSTANDEN is a 12th century early German vernacular hymn that sprang up in the same century as its Latin plain song counterpart, VICTIMAE PASCHALI LAUDES. It is probably one of the first hymns that was not sung in Latin. In Songs of Praise Discussed, Archibald Jacob “notes with pleasure that ‘this melody occupies the same place in German music as ‘Summer is icumen in’ does in English.” (Quoted in An Annotated Anthology of Hymns edited by J. R Watson, p. 278).
In 1524, CHRIST LAG IN TODESBANDEN appears as a Reformation reworking of both earlier hymns. All three hymns draw us deeper into the Easter mystery in a unique way. The melodies are rugged and modal. The stories they tell use the imagery of Easter: the Paschal Lamb, Mary’s sighting of Jesus at his tomb (described in today’s gospel), the risen Christ as “the joy of all” among others. Our Episcopalian versions of these appear in order in the hymnal at nos. 183-186. The last setting is drawn from Bach’s Cantata 4 which typically shows a unique depth of Christian understanding and art.
Today, the composers. J. S. Bach and Georg Böhm, illustrate the nobility and Easter joy of these melodies. Our Martin Pasi organ is the perfect instrument for this music. Easter hymn, melody, and the beauty of the Pasi come together to provide an instrumental frame for our Eucharist.
submitted by Steve Jenkins, Music Director