Alleluia! The Lord is risen! The Lord is risen, indeed!
On April 1st, 2018 (unless you’re Orthodox), Christians across the globe celebrated the resurrection of the living God. For the biggest Christian celebration of the liturgical year, there is a literal boatload of work that goes in to “pulling off” Easter.
Easter is not just Easter by itself; Easter comes with a whole host of other liturgies. We have to get through Holy Week first. Palm Sunday, where Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and subsequent Passion is reenacted; Chrism Mass, where the oils for the following year are presented to the Bishop and blessed; Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday, where the Lord’s Last Supper is remembered, the feet of the disciples are washed, and the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the tabernacle and from the sanctuary of the church – Jesus is no longer present, for he is going to be betrayed and crucified; Good Friday liturgy where the Lord’s Passion and Death are remembered; Easter Vigil, where our baptismal covenant is renewed, those entering the Roman Catholic church are baptized and confirmed, and then way at the tail end of a 2 hour service is the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection; then we finally make it to Easter.
To plan these liturgies, we do a lot of this:
Church musicians are in their offices for 10-12 hours a day, every day, during Holy Week. By Easter Sunday, we’ve played in 8-9 services in the span of a week. We’re still rehearsing, practicing, preparing, coming up with contingency plans, and taking small naps at our desks if we have 5 minutes. My favorite Holy Week meme, you ask?
You may be thinking to yourself: “Okay, thanks for telling me? We’re past Easter. What does this have to do with anything?” Let me tell you something: Eastertide is actually 8 weeks long. The liturgical season of Easter spans from Easter Sunday through to Pentecost.
My most favorite and least favorite question I get asked in the office is “are things slowing down now that Easter has passed?” Nope, they sure haven’t slowed down. We’re planning through to Pentecost now. Once past Pentecost, we’ll be planning through to Corpus Christi (June 3 this year, folks). Once we pass Corpus Christi, we’re going to get cracking on Summer Ordinary Time. The liturgical year never ends, it’s an infinite loop of time and space and work.
If you’re, say, not a church musician by trade like I am but you’ve found yourself in a leadership position in a church and you need some planning resources, say no more. I’ve compiled a short list of planning resources from hymns to anthems, tips and tricks for understanding Holy Week, as well as some things to keep your spirits up during the post-Easter slump. I tried to be ecumenical in my approach because there are many more denominations than the Romans celebrating Holy Week but if you find a resource you think is vitally important, email me and I’ll add it to the list!
Go forth and plan!
Roman Catholic Resources:
- Cantica Nova Publications: www.canticanova.com/pln_main.htm
- Corpus Christi Watershed: www.ccwatershed.org
- Oregon Catholic Press: www.ocp.org
- GIA Publications: www.giamusic.com
- National Association of Pastoral Musicians: www.npm.org
- Church Music Association of America: hmusicasacra.com
- Extraordinary Form Propers: bbloomf.github.io/jgabc/propers.html
- ECUSA: www.episcopalchurch.org/page/liturgy-music
- Hymnal 1982: www.oremus.org/hymnal/82.html
- Book of Common Prayer: justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/bcp.htm
- Church Publishing: www.churchpublishing.org
- Anglican Association of Musicians: www.anglicanmusicians.org
- Lectionary Music: www.lectionarymusic.com
- Sewanee Church Music Conference: www.sewaneeconf.com/resources.html
Lutheran (ELCA, LCMS, WELS):
- Association of Lutheran Church Musicians: alcm.org/connect/helpful-links (a comprehensive list of Synods)
- General Book of Discipleship Planning: www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/song-leading
- Singing the Faith: www.singingthefaithplus.org.uk