Easter Hymnody: Let the Holy Anthem Rise

Jimmy Mac send me his favorite Easter hymn, and it occurred to me we haven’t done a musical feature here in some time.

We have fifty days’ worth of hymnody to explore, so suggest your own favorites (by combox or e-mail, as you prefer) from either the plainsong, organ, or contemporary tradition, and I’ll post on each of them.

This hymn was on the fringes of the repertoire in my current parish, a favorite of the pastor who hired me, but not popular among the musicians. Too bad; it’s an American classic.

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Let the holy anthem rise,
And the choirs of heaven chant it
In the temple of the skies;
Let the mountains skip with gladness,
And the joyful valleys ring
With Hosannas in the highest
To our Savior and our King.

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Like the sun from out the wave,
Christ has risen up in triumph
From the darkness of the grave,
Glorious splendor of the nations,
And the lamp of endless day;
Christ the very Lord of glory
Who is risen up today.

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ has burst our prison bars;
And has lifted up the portals
Of our home beyond the stars;
Now is won for us our freedom,
Wounded feet our foes have trod;
Now is purchased back our birthright
To the kingdom of our God.

Alleluia! Alleluia!
Blessed Jesus, make us rise
From the life of this corruption
To the life that never dies.
May your glory be our portion,
When the days of time are past.
And the dead shall be awakened
By the trumpet’s mighty blast.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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8 Responses to Easter Hymnody: Let the Holy Anthem Rise

  1. Randolph Nichols says:

    While Edward Caswall’s text is admirable, the tune ‘Let the Holy Anthem Rise’ stirs too many images of marching around the revival tent. Perhaps that explains its absence in many mainline denomination hymnals. (There are other 87.87 tunes that can be substituted.)

    Another topic to consider is whether the tune ‘Easter Hymn’ is the best choice for the text ‘Jesus Christ is risen today.” I actually prefer ‘Gaudeamus pariter,’ which I understand is more common in England and parts of Europe.

    Among my Eastertide favorites:

    Let the Whole Creation Cry (Ps 148
    paraphrase by S.A. Brooke paired
    with the tune ‘Llanfair’)

    Easter Glory Fills the Sky! Alleluia!
    (text: J. Quinn, S.J., tune ‘Chislehurst’
    by S.H. Nicholson, the same guy who
    gave us ‘Lift High the Cross.’)

  2. My all-time favorite Easter song, on account of its Passover imagery, is Hillert’s Festival Canticle:

    This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia.

    Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain,
    Whose blood set us free to be people of God.

    This is the feast…

    Power, riches, wisdom, and strength,
    And honor, blessing and glory are his.

    This is the feast…

    Sing with all the people of God,
    And join in the hymn of all creation.

    This is the feast…

    Blessing, honor, glory, and might
    Be to God and the Lamb forever, Amen.

    This is the feast…

  3. Gavin says:

    That’s a fave in my parish. It’s alright, but my uptight-Lutheran girlfriend despises it: “What is this, a Catholic ‘Shall We Gather at the River’??”

    My favorite, which is not in any Catholic hymnal, is “Jesus Lives”: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/j/j111.html Both the text and tune are based on a Lutheran hymn which is still popularly sung in their churches.

    One that became a big hit at my parish when I introduced it is “He is Risen”: http://www.oremus.org/hymnal/h/h128.html Not as commonly sung in Catholic circles, but it’s out there. OF COURSE, we have to call it “Christ is Risen” because PC-types get offended over implying Jesus is male or don’t know who is risen.

    Concord, I like that hymn too, but I should point out that it’s not exactly an Easter hymn per se, but rather a replacement for the Gloria in the newer Lutheran liturgies. I think it works better as an easter hymn, of course!

  4. Liam says:

    Randolph, as I think you know (I forget if you are a fellow parishoner?) at St Paul’s in Harvard Sq, we sing “Christ The Lord is Ris’n Today” to GAUDEAMUS PARITER. A somewhat different text than the first line might suggest. We also sing the Chilsehurst hymn too – a fantastic text and tune.

    Unfortunately, I overdosed on the Festival Canticle in the 1980s and can’t stand it anymore.

    Jesus Lives is a great text and tune and should be in more Catholic hymnals.

    I also love At The Lamb’s High Feast We Sing – with single or double descants to envelop the sturdy but somewhat workmanlike Salzburg tune.

  5. Jimmy Mac says:

    We also did the Festival Canticle last Sunday. It was a definite “twofer” day for us.

    Having never marched, walked nor crawled around a revival tent I don’t have any qualms about the “tune” of this hymn.

    I’m old enough to have undergone annual parish revials brought to us by the Passionists and Paulists. Talk about hellfire, brimstone, altar calls and unbridled weeping! Those were the good old days that were part of the reform2 crowd’s hankering for the past.

  6. Tony Neria says:

    “In the Breaking of the Bread” by Michael Ward (WLP). We do it every year as the going forth song at our Easter Vigil and Easter morning. If I ever changed it, my assembly would have my head. The words are from Luke 24 and Acts 2. I get chills when I sing it because the words are so beautiful and our assembly loves it.

  7. Carmine Giordano says:

    We used to sing this when I was a young boy in St. .Athanasius ELementary School in Brooklyn, NY.

    Brought back memories of the good old Catholic days of processions, the Sisters of S., Joseph, cathechism classes, glorious Easter mornings with fresh altar linens and the scent of lilies sending us to paradise! Thank you. Thank you.

  8. Rev. James D. (Danny) Borkowski, D. Min. says:

    I love it, too. Is it possible to download the tune?

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