Real resurrection music?
Date: January 15, 2013
Another current thread asks about "real" Lenten music. I have a similar question about music for the resurrection.
Here's my problem: I find most of the Easter anthems I come across unconvincing. It's not that I don't believe that Jesus is risen; I do, emphatically. The body that went into the tomb is the body that came out. But most anthems with organ and brass blazing and sopranos high above the staff sound strained to my ears. No doubt that says more about me and my sensibilities than it does about the music. But in any case, I don't have the resources to pull such things off.
I direct worship and music in a Presbyterian church. The choir is about 25 voices strong. We do a lot of unaccompanied music. At Easter, here are things I find "convincing": William Billings' "Easter Anthem," Bach's "The Blessed Christ Is Risen Today," Brahms' "Magdalena," "This Joyful Eastertide." I imagine that a piece such as "This Joyful Eastertide" is regarded as hackneyed, but to everyone here it was new -- and what joy to hear a group take enthusiastic ownership of it!
My "convincing" list also includes Orthodox music. We sing "Thy Resurrection, O Christ Our Savior" and "As Many as Have Been Baptized" (Znamenny chant) and "Arise, O God" (Psalm 82) and the Paschal troparion ("Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death ..."). We sing music by Andre Gouzes, a French Dominican whose sound is much influenced by Russian chant. Here's one example, "Christ Is Risen From the Dead":
(A seminary prof once called me an "Eastern Rite Presbyterian.")
My question for you all: Will you point me to more resurrection gems that don't require instrumental forces that are unavailable for now? I'm looking for SAB/SATB pieces that can be sung unaccompanied -- but with resurrection vigor! -- or perhaps accompanied by piano. New, old, in between. East, West. Anything. I'd be grateful for your savvy responses!