St. Agnes Academy
You hear these Catholic Easter Songs year after year but do you know their names and origins? Read more about some of the top hits (both new and old)!
Songs played during Mass during Holy Week
are often both meaningful and traditional, some even dating as far back as the 14th century. You may recognize many hymns once standing in church, but did you know there are some newer, more contemporary songs related to Easter?
Whether creating a Spotify playlist or practicing for Holy Week, there are many Catholic Easter songs to grace your ears this Easter Season.
Songs for Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter
The many days leading up to Easter Sunday are filled with ceremonies, traditions, and plenty of time for prayer and meditation at your church. Look at the songs meant for each day below as means of reflection before or after attending that day's service.
"Lift High the Cross" was written by George Kitchin in 1887 based on Matthew 16:24, which reads, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." You can see the parallel in Kitchin's lyrics, "Lift high the cross...Come, Christians, follow where our Savior trod, / our King victorious, Christ, the Son of God." Kitchin's lyrics align with our vision as we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem and observing the people waving palm branches on Palm Sunday.
Grammy Award winner Chris Tomlin recorded "At the Cross" in 2014 after assisting in writing the song. Tomlin sings, "At the cross, at the cross / I surrender my life / I'm in awe of You / I'm in awe of You / Where Your love ran red /, And my sin-washed white / I owe all to You" as a reflection of what Jesus has done for us.
William Henry Turton, a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, wrote "Lord, Who At Thy First Eucharist" in 1881 at age 25. You can find the hymn with his 11 other hymns in his book A Few Hymns, written by A Layman between the Festivals of All Saints. The song begins with "Lord, who at thy first Eucharist did pray / That all thy Church might be forever one, / Grant us at ev'ry Eucharist to say / With longing heart and soul, "Thy will be done."
Matt Maher recorded "Behold the Lamb of God" in 2006. His lyrics, "Behold the Lamb of God / Who takes away the sins of the world," remind us of the process of the priest breaking the bread during Mass, which very much aligns with Holy Thursday as the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ.
The most traditional forms of "O Sacred Head, Surrounded" date back to 1601 when German composer Hans Leo Hassler first recorded it. Some of the more widely known compositions of the song originate from renowned composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who appropriated and rhythmically simplified the hymn in 1656.
Working alongside songwriters Charles Bentley, Darren Mulligan, and Ed Cash, David Crowder released "My Victory" in 2016. The chorus of his song "Oh, Your love bled for me / Oh, Your blood in crimson streams / Oh, Your death is hell's defeat / A cross meant to kill is my Jesus victory" is what most lends itself to use on Good Friday, the day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus.
Written by Robert Campbell and published in 1850 in St. Andrew's Hymnal, "At the Lamb's High Feast" is a mighty song commemorating Holy Saturday. Look at the lyrics "Now no more can death appall, / now no more the grave enthrall; / you have opened paradise, / and your saints in you shall rise" and reflect on the day which observes the final day of Christ's death.
Written with his wife Gloria and released in 2001 is "Because He Lives" by American singer and songwriter of contemporary Christian music, Bill Gaither. The song begins, "God sent His son / They called Him Jesus / He came to love / Heal and forgive / He bled and died," which very clearly narrates Jesus's crucifixion story.
Published in more than 450 hymnals, "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" is one of the most widely known Easter hymns ever. To the best of anyone's knowledge, the hymn originally appeared in the John Walsh collection Lyra Davidica in 1708. You may hear this song in your home parish this Easter season!
Another classic sung by Matt Maher is "Christ is Risen." Matt wrote this song with Australian Christian musician Mia Fieldes and recorded it in 2009. Matt shared wisdom on the song's inspiration as coming from a sermon from the 3rd century by St. John Chrysostom. In the lyrics, he included one big-picture idea he garnered from the address, which was "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death, and redeeming us from the grave."
Sing Catholic Easter Songs & Walk with Us This Easter Season!
The season of Lent can seem serious and dark at times, but thankfully the celebration of Holy Week always reminds us of what we are reflecting on.
After 40 days of fasting, reflection, and contemplation, we finalize the season by joining in Mass as we walk through Jesus's death and resurrection. With such powerful lessons and stories, it is no wonder there are wonderful hymns, new and old, to accommodate the services.
Being part of a community like St. Agnes Academy
allows students and families various opportunities during all Catholic seasons. For example, during Lent, the whole school partakes in a philanthropic effort. This year, we are hosting a drive for donated bags and purses.
There are many other offerings, such as a morning prayer service every day before Lent, and, of course, all school masses such as Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday. Many of the above Catholic Easter songs might even be on the setlist for these upcoming services!
Interested in learning how your family might find a place in a community like ours? Contact our Theology department
for more information on the opportunities families have to get involved during the season of Lent!