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Real resurrection music?

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!
Paul Buckley
on January 16, 2013 4:32am
Look at David Ashley White's a capella setting of "Come Away to the Skies." You may download a full pdf review copy at this link:
David Schaap
Selah Publishing Co., Inc.
on January 17, 2013 5:31am
Paul - This isn't something particularly challenging, but I've always liked the medieval "sense" of "Christus Vincit" by Christopher Walker.  It's based on the Gregorian chant, has a call-and-response element within it, and when we do it, we do it with two handchimes played vigorously (an A and and E chime) when the choir comes in.  It's not long; perhaps 2 minutes and a hiccup long.  But it rings long after the last note is sung and played - and we do it entirely a cappella.  It's published by Oregon Catholic Press ( and shouldn't cost you a small fortune, either.
Chantez bien!
on January 18, 2013 9:24am
Hi, Paul. It's nice to hear a kindred spirit.
Last week I finished an a capella piece called "Christi crux est mea lux" (the Cross of Christ is my light).
It is currently uploaded into the composer's marketplace here:
Granted, the theme is perhaps more akin to Good Friday, but with the hope of Christ's rising and return. The phrases translate "The cross of Christ is my light; while I breathe I trust the cross; the Cross is my anchor and my hope; By the grace of God, if God is for us who can be against us? and 'it is finished' etc.
I hope you find what you are looking for. I love that you insist on your music having a strong message. It's so important to be true to that!
Take care,
on January 18, 2013 3:21pm
  Kevin Hildebrand's "Christ Has Destroyed Death" to be a  short energetic keeper, a cappella, with a 6/8 alleluia that dances.  Also Craig Courtney's "The Tomb Stands Open Wide", very dramatic, easier than it sounds.  Strong piano accompaniment. 
on January 18, 2013 4:22pm
How about this?
It's got an earthy, American feel, very energetic, and the text is a nice telling of the Easter narrative.
on January 18, 2013 6:27pm
I have a setting of the German text Hilariter in my own English translation for 6 brass (0-3-2-1; hn may sub. for Trb. 1), SATB div., organ & timpani that, according to what you've said above, may work for you; as well as a setting for the same forces of Edmund Spenser's Most Glorious Lord of Life.
Please let me know if either of these might be of interest.
Hope thsi helps,
Robert A.M. Ross
Finalist, 2012 American Prize for Choral Composition
on January 21, 2013 7:29am
Hi Paul,
Paschal Canon, one of Richard Toensing’s most recent works, is a setting of the complete Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus, a text sung in the Eastern Orthodox Church every Easter. Rich in textural and musical variety, this is a work that will delight singers and audiences alike. Cast in the form of a choral concerto, the Paschal Canon consists of eight odes, each of which constitutes a movement. Single odes may be extracted and performed separately, although a performance of the entire work is optimum.
For information and to order scores, contact me, Janet Braccio, Bella Voce Communications, janetbraccio(a)
on January 22, 2013 6:28am
FINALLY Someone who appreciates the depth and beauty found in Orthodox Music!!! - after 3 trips to Russia with my choir, and being immersed in this music and tradition, I can't recommend this music enough -- thank you Paul!!
Based on the music you mentioned in your post, you might enjoy taking a look at Morn's Roseate Hues by George Chadwick
I know you mentioned not wanting much instrumental force, but this gem of a piece really depicts the imagery of the Resurrection story.. just take a look:
Three Days Had Passed by Joel Martinson - poetry by John Thornburg
on January 22, 2013 1:24pm
The Ulster Society of Organists and Choirmasters asked Philip Stopford to write an Easter Anthem that fulfills your requirements. It is a setting of Charles Wesley's Christ the Lord is risen again and is an exciting celebratory Easter work that is not too difficult for choirs to learn.
Go to "YouTube - Philip Stopford - Christ the Lord is risen again"
on January 22, 2013 1:56pm
Hi Paul,
Musica Russica offers some wonderful Resurrectional music.
Kastalsky has a well-known arrangement of Christ is Risen and you can find it in both Church Slavonic and English.
Hope this helps!
on January 24, 2013 5:30am
Brand new piece (2011) published by GIA "The Strife Is O'er" by Paul Ritchie (G-7692.  SATB but with some divisi TTB and SSATB sections.  A cappella.  Splendid!
on January 24, 2013 2:44pm
Hello Paul,
I recommend one of my compositions titled "Surrexit Pastor Bonus" is SATB a cappella, is based on the Latin text appropriate for Easter (Rise Good Shepherd), accessible (sounds more difficult than it really is....), challenging, varied, and thought provoking/reflective of the text/Word.  It is published through National Music Publishers (distributed by Hal Leonard) in my choral series.....there is a decent video/recording done by an excellent high school honors choir on YouTube, and I have another recording for reference if you wish (send your mailing address to my Central Washington University email).  The work was reviewed in this month's ACDA Choral Journal and will be performed at the upcoming national ACDA conference in Dallas this March.  I have had many church choir directors and singers give positive feedback on this piece and how it was something "different" for their Easter programming.  Check it out and Best wishes,  Vijay Singh
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