Songs for the Easter Season: “Risen Today”

“I am the resurrection and the life.”

I blogged at this time last year about the importance of singing and listening to resurrection songs. [Yes, I know that I haven’t blogged much since then. I’ve gotten over it. I hope you have too.] I’m convinced of the importance of this more than ever before. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15 (among other places) that the resurrection is the indispensable part of the Christian faith. If the only thing you had to go on was the music that Christians sing and listen to, you probably wouldn’t come to that conclusion. Why?

I want to be a small part of the remedy by highlighting some of the songs that are on my “resurrection” playlist. I’ve pruned it since last year and then grafted some new songs in.

“Risen Today”

My favourite song for the Easter Season is Aaron Shust’s “Risen Today”, judging by the number of times iTunes says that it’s been played. Shust’s song is remake of the classic Charles Wesley hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Wesley published his hymn in 1739 for Easter Sunday. John Julian in his Dictionary of Hymnology noted: “This is one of the most popular and widely used of C[harles] Wesley’s hymns.”

One notable feature of Wesley’s hymns is that the lyrics are suffused with Scripture. One Scriptural index of Wesley’s hymns includes over 2,500 references including every book of the Bible, except for Nahum and Philemon. “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” is no exception. There are several references, but I am particularly moved by the 1 Corinthians 15:55 quotation in the third verse.

Shust has lightly edited Wesley’s lyrics (according to the copy that I have) and added a bridge. Wesley no longer dominates church music as he once did (not even one entry in the CCLI Top 100). But, I hope Shust’s version helps this important hymn to stay popular and widely used.