When we first arrived at Bearwood Chapel, there didn’t seem to have been a significant emphasis on Easter. The Brethren tradition tends to particularly stay away from church calendar occasions. However, we had a few people, particularly but not exclusively from the older end of the church who wanted to make a bigger thing of the special occasions and do them well.
So we did. We felt it right in our context to make a big thing of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and Harvest. We also found that this chimed well with the local community too. The only condition was that these things had to be outward focused. There had to be a strong evangelistic thread to things.
So, Easter included special invitation events in the week with testimonies and music. A Good Friday breakfast followed by communion became a significant part of the week and we usually had a few events for children and families.
Easter Sunday was the biggie. We packed everyone into one gathering all together. The building was decorated with loads of balloons and people were greeted with gifts of little chocolate eggs.
The challenge to some extent was getting sung worship that captured a sense of joyful, dignified celebration. In fact, we found that we had to go back to older songs and hymns otherwise a lot of our contemporary songs put the focus back onto crucifixion. I think there has been a little bit of correction to that but it is still a challenge.
The other year, during the pandemic I put together a playlist of Easter songs that could be used online. I thought I’d share this here as it might be helpful for those seeking to put together music for Sunday. And for everyone else, here’s something to sit back and enjoy.
It includes the main traditional hymns, Christ the Lord is Risen today, Thine Be the Glory and of course Up from the grave he arose (with two contemporary arrangements). Graham Kendrick’s Make Way for the Cross included several newer Easter songs in the 1980s and more recently Townend and Getty have provided us with “See what a morning” and “Come people of the risen king.”
I’ve also included a lively song from Tommy Walker, “I’ve Seen the Lord he is risen.” If you are a Jonny Cash fan you may remember him singing a song called “Ain’t no grave.” I’ve included a version here. There’s an iffy interpretation of 1 Peter 3 in the middle so you might want to cut that bit or spend a bit of time reinterpreting it -but the theme of resurrection hope for us because of Christ is powerful.
Then there’s Tim Hughes’ classic “Happy Day” which for some reason, someone’s decided to set to film clips from Lord of the Rings and Happy Feet. I’m not so sure about the defence of Gondor bits but dancing penguins are great at any time -and a reminder that Christ’s resurrection hope causes all creation to dance for joy.