An Easter Poll

Neither of these pieces made it into the NPM top 25. I suspect that, for some reason, religious music pollsters of various sorts neglect seasonal fare. The Liturgicla Music Dance tries to correct for that, adding a few songs for Christmas, a few for Lent, and lesser numbers for Advent. Easter songs, too. In the “draw” two very popular pieces landed an 8 vs 9 match-up, which I thought I’d save for today:

One you probably sang in church this morning, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today,” is a late medieval Latin hymn. Original text, sans alleluias.

Surrexit Christus hodie
Humano pro solamine.
Mortem qui passus pridie
Miserrimo pro homine.
Mulieres ad tumulum
Dona ferunt aromatum,
Album cernentes angelum
Anuntiantes gaudium.
Mulieres o tremulae,
In Galilaeam pergite,
Discipulis hoc dicite,
Quod surrexit rex gloriae.
Ubique praecedet suos,
Quos dilexit, discipulos.
Sit benedictus hodie,
Qui nos redemit sanguine.
Ergo cum dulci melodo
Benedicamus Domino.
Laudetur sancta trinitas,
Deo dicamus gratias.

It has a spinoff, “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” which nudged the original into a slightly higher seed in this tournament, just below the top-25. The first English translation appeared in the 1708 collection Lyra Davidica. The name CharlesWesley is associated with the text, but I think he was responsible for the fourth verse added to the original three. The tune, EASTER HYMN, is terrific, lending itself to great musical production unison or in any of the countless arrangements, and on almost any instrument or combination of instruments.

Including the “Hallelujah Chorus” is a debatable point. Other “art music” made it into the NPM “Songs That Make A Differnce” poll. And besides, pretty much everybody can hum the first few bars. This chorus is not the conclusion of the oratorio, only the end of Part II. From wikipedia, with some links:

This, as Young points out, is not the climactic chorus of the work, although one cannot escape its “contagious enthusiasm”.[123] It builds from a deceptively light orchestral opening,[42] through a short, unison cantus firmus passage on the words “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”, to the reappearance of the long-silent trumpets at “And He shall reign for ever and ever”. Commentators have noted that the musical line for this third subject is based on Wachet auf, Philipp Nicolai‘s popular Lutheranchorale.

“Contagious” is right.

My wife and I were viewing some of The Gratest Story Ever Told the other night. They use it in the score, but for the raising of Lazarus. I cracked that after the retelling of John 11, I’m ready for the Third Scrutiny, not Easter music. You, friend readers, are likely ready for Easter music. So make your choice, if you please.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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