COLUMBIA — As Easter Sunday approaches, churches are busy preparing their musical programs. At Calvary Episcopal Church, musical director Ed Hanson has hired a string quartet, which, along with the church's adult choir, will perform traditional hymns. One hymn they plan to play, “Awake, Arise!” was composed by Columbia native Howard Helvey.
First Presbyterian Church will take a more contemporary route Easter morning. The church features what it is calling a blended worship service before its traditional service. Instead of traditional organ pieces, the service will feature variations on hymns led by a full band of musicians.
Whether the route taken is traditional or contemporary, what can’t Easter morning music be without? The Missourian asked several church music directors.
“Probably the opening hymn we use, ‘Hail Thee Festival Day.’ It’s just very uplifting and sets the tone. If it wasn’t there, it just wouldn’t be the same.” — Ed Hanson, music director at Calvary Episcopal Church
“For me, I think it’s the brass ensemble we have every Palm Sunday and Easter. It makes it very festive.” — Nancy Robertson, music minister at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
“I think the quintessential hymn for most congregations is ‘Christ the Lord is Risen Today.’ It’s a good statement of the Christian faith.” — Mary Bancroft, music director of First Christian Church
"I think there has to be some intention and prayerful thought about the lyrical selection of the music, making sure the songs line up thematically with the story of Easter and are in correct Biblical order." — Preston Turley, director of campus ministries and blended worship leader at First Presbyterian Church
“The voices of the congregation. If the church is represented, I’m really happy.” – Scott Johnson, director of worship at The Crossing
"It has to be joyful, and it has to be about the resurrection. It's any song that's about victory and overcoming death." — Amy Kollmeyer, developer of children's and music ministries at Alive in Christ Lutheran Church
"The traditional Easter Hymns that people have been reared on. There are certain songs, like 'Christ the Lord is Risen Today,' 'Heroes,' 'He Lives' or 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today,' that when the organ starts playing or the congregation starts singing, people are immediately reminded of Easter and the resurrection." — Michelle Gamblin-Green, choir director of Trinity Presbyterian Church's Sanctuary Choir