For me, it wasn’t Easter until I was able to play the Easter hymn, “Jesus Christ is risen today,” which didn’t happen until Easter Tuesday when I played the Easter Eucharist for the St. Andrew’s Schools. I sang the hymn when I attended Easter Day mass at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to hear my organ student, Steven Severin, play, but it really wasn’t Easter for me. I even hosted an Easter Day brunch for my friends on Sunday after church, it still wasn’t Easter.
You see, it has now been four years since I retired from church music, and to be quite honest, I don’t miss all the rehearsals, the four straight days of major services from Maundy Thursday, to Good Friday, to Easter Vigil, to Easter, the lack of sleep, and being “on the edge” about performing all the music I had to play during the week.
So it was finally on Easter Tuesday at the St. Andrew’s Schools chapel service that I performed my favorite Easter pieces: “Christ lag in Todesbanden (Christ lay in bonds of death)” by Georg Böhm (which I always used to play during Communion at the Easter Vigil), “Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (Deck thyself, my soul with gladness) by J. S. Bach, and “Komm heiliger Geist (Come, holy Spirit) by Bach for the postlude. This last piece was the one which I always played after the intonation of the Gloria at the Easter Vigil. It was the first organ piece the parishioners heard after the organ being silenced at the beginning of the Maundy Thursday service through the first part of the Vigil. With the choristers ringing handbells vigorously and creating a wild cacophony, it was for me “one of those moments” which for me was the essence of and captured the rapturous joy of Easter.
It was Easter Tuesday that I also used Dale Wood’s setting of “Easter Hymn” for the final verse of the hymn, and immediately I was brought back to all those 30+ years I played it at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu with Carl conducting the choir on the descant.
Here, for your edification, is Kings College’s performance of “Easter Hymn,” arranged by David Willcocks. It’s not the arrangement I used, but is grand, nevertheless.
On Tuesday I didn’t have handbells ringing on the postlude (“Komm, heiliger Geist”), but I sure played “the pants off” the piece on full organ at St. Andrew’s. Oh, joy!
By the way, a church music professor in college told me that it is a misnomer to call it “Easter Sunday.” Easter is ALWAYS on a Sunday, and when you refer to April 16th this year, you should call it “Easter Day,” not “Easter Sunday.” Just thought you should know!
And here are the pictures from my Easter brunch. Thank goodness, I have wonderful friends who not only help bring the food, but help clean up the kitchen, too!