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Notes on the Notes – Sunday, March 31, 2013

Theme: Easter Sunday –

Change that lasts…change that matters.

History of Easter.

Easter, the principal festival of the Christian church year, celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. The origins of Easter date to the beginnings of Christianity, and it is probably the oldest Christian observance after  the Sabbath.

The Feast of Easter was well established by the second century.  But there had been dispute over the exact date of the Easter observance between the Eastern and Western Churches.  To solve this problem the emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325.  The question of the date of Easter was one of its main concerns.  The council decided that Easter should fall on Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox, which was officially determined to be March 21.

The dating of Easter today follows the same pattern.  Accordingly, churches in the West observe it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the Spring equinox on March 21, and so Easter always falls between March 21 and April 25.  Churches in the East base their calculations on the Julian calendar, whose March 21 corresponds to April 3 in the Gregorian calendar.   In 2014, the Eastern and Western calendars align and Easter will fall on April 20 for all Christians.

Readings: Isaiah 65:17-25, Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24

Today’s music:

“Jesus Christ is Risen Today” (VU #155) – This is the most familiar of Easter hymns.  This Easter carol appears in several 14th-century manuscripts.  Verse one is taken from a translation of the Latin text as published in John Walsh’s Lyra Davidica (1708).  Verses 2 and 3 were rewritten for John Arnold’s Compleat Psalmodist (1749 and 1753).  The fourth verse is by Charles Welsey, from his Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1740.  EASTER HYMN, the setting for this text, is a model of the new hymnody being introduced to English congregations at the beginning of the 18th century.   The descant for the last verse was added in 1971.

“Joyful Easter Alleluias” – This joyful anthem by Lynn Shaw Bailey and Becky Slagle Mayo incorporates the EASTER HYMN tune with the alternate text of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” written by Charles Wesley in 1739.

“Celebrate the Life of Jesus” – This lively gospel-style anthem by Don Besig and Nancy Price (1999) takes the listener through the life of Jesus, from his humble birth in Bethlehem to his victorious rising at Easter.

“This is the Day That God Has Made” (VU #175) – This youth-oriented Easter song was written by American composer Natalie Sleeth in 1976.  Sleeth was born on October 29, 1930 in Evanston, IL.    Among her other published works, “In the Bulb there is a Flower” (“Hymn of Promise”) has become one of her most popular compositions both as a hymn and as an anthem.   An organist, she wrote over 180 highly successful selections for church and school.  At age 62, at the height of her career, she died of cancer on March 21, 1992 in Denver, Colorado.

“Jesus is Lord” – This anthem by Anges-Marie Lockie is based on Phillipians 2:5-11.  From the Message:

5-8 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.  9-11 Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

“Alive!  Alive!” – This popular Easter response is arranged by John T. Benson Publishing Company.  The original author and composer are unknown.

“Because You Live, O Christ” (VU #178) – Shirley Erena Murray, a New Zealand hymn writer, wrote this strong new hymn to provide an alternative Easter text for the tune VRUECHTEN.  “I wanted a fresh expression of community joyfulness, with light, color, and the vision of the covenenant rainbow through the Resurrection.”  (Shirley Erena Murray).  The hymn is published in her collection, In Every Corner Sing (1992).

“Behold:  One Another” –  “Behold! One Another: An Intercultural Conference” took place October 30–November 2, 2008.   Nearly 270 people gathered for The United Church of Canada’s first conference on intercultural ministries. Participants came from many cultural communities and language groups to worship together and experience what “intercultural” might mean for the church. The theme song, “Behold:  One Another!” was written by Bruce Harding and based on Revelation 21:1.


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