I’ve often wondered why there aren’t as many Easter songs as there are Christmas songs. Every winter there are dozens of new releases for Christmas, but the power and passion of Easter is rarely captured in a standalone song, let alone a seasonal album. The emotions of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday practically beg to be matched with a sonic backdrop to stir our souls, move our hearts, and deepen our worship.
That’s not to say that Easter songs don’t exist; it’s just that they’re not usually on “Easter albums”. With that in mind, here’s a trio of songs from the last couple of years that might give a voice to your heart’s stirrings during this Holy Week.
Written by Kari Jobe and Bethel Music’s Brian Johnson, along with Jenn Johnson, Gabriel Wilson, Joel Taylor, Christa Black Gifford, “Forever” has appeared recently on Bethel’s Tides (with Brain on lead vocal) and on Jobe’s Majestic (with Jobe singing the lead). Jobe also performs the song on the upcoming Bethel release You Make Me Brave.
It’s a Good Friday-to-Easter Sunday journey and opens with an appropriately elegiac image: “The moon and stars, they wept / The morning sun was dead / The Savior of the world was fallen.” Then, the ground begins to shake, resurrection is witnessed, and death is overcome. The worship tag invites participation in the promise: “We sing hallelujah! The Lamb has overcome!”
The Mercy Tree
This one’s a little more under the radar, though its recent appearance as a bonus track on Anthony Evans’ Real Life/Real Worship is affording it some of the attention it deserves. Written by Krissy Nordhoff and Michael Neale, it gets a powerful treatment by Evans, and previously, by Lacey Sturm when the song appeared in the film “The Cross”, featuring Billy Graham.
How Love Wins (Thief)
This is a song from The Story, told by Steven Curtis Chapman from the perspective of the thief hanging on the cross beside Jesus. It’s an unusual vantage point for the crucifixion, adding a degree of depth to the lyrics that is sometimes missing in Easter songs. Some associate The Story with Christmas, but I pull out this remarkable album written by Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms every Easter for songs like “How Love Wins” and Natalie Grant’s “Alive”, and for the reminder that every page of the Old Testament — from the creation of the world to the fall of man, from the covenant to the temple, from prophecy to the praise of the psalms — points to the cross.