At the offertory, the choir will sing Now the green blade riseth, a French traditional carol. While this tune was originally a Christmas carol in its native France, it was first paired with this Easter text, according to my research, in 1928 for the Oxford Book of Carols. The tune is one of my all-time favorites! With its jaunty, quirky melody, it fits the idea of “wheat that springeth green” quite well. The first three verses narrate the Christ’s Easter story while the third verse speaks directly about us.
“When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
thy touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.”
- John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958), alt.
Finally, during Holy Communion, you will hear a quartet from our choir sing perhaps the greatest Lutheran Easter chorale. While the text and tune are both by Luther, Bach provides wonderful harmony. This chorale, Christ lag in Todesbanden, is one of my favorites. You’ll notice that it is in a minor key. It is important to know that major doesn’t always mean “happy,” and minor doesn’t always mean “sad.” In this case, the minor key lends an air of nobility to this important text and deservedly so. Below, please find the first verse of this great Easter chorale. If you’re interested in further listening, look up Bach’s Cantata BWV 4 based on this chorale. It is worth hearing!
“Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands for our offenses given;
but now at God’s right hand he stands and brings us life from heaven;
therefore let us joyful be,
and sing to God right thankfully loud songs of alleluia!
- Martin Luther (1483-1546); tr. Richard Massie (1806-1887), alt.