I’ll never make any apologies for encouraging Christians to live cross-centered lives, or leaders to lead in gospel-centered ways. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross which reconciled us to God will always be central to our faith.
But while we are called to glory in the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14), the death of Christ isn’t meant to stand alone in our thinking or preaching.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:17-19)
Still, Thomas Schreiner makes this insightful comment:
The central event in the gospel is the death and resurrection of Jesus. These two actions belong closely together (Rom 4:25; 8:34; 1 Cor 15:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:15; Phil 3:10; 1Thess 4:14), but the weight lies on the former.”
So as we gather in a little over a month to observe Holy Week, culminating in the celebration of Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, let’s not forget to remind people why the death that preceded the resurrection was so significant — Jesus fully endured the wrath of God as our substitute, and we no longer need fear God’s wrath or punishment (Rom. 5:1-8).
Easter All Year Round
Having made that clarification, the triumphant victory of the crucified Savior over the grave is something Christians should celebrate the whole year, not just at Easter. We worship a risen Savior!
Because we tend to sing a high percentage of songs about the resurrection on Easter Sunday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to suggest some songs I’ve become aware of that highlight the resurrection, especially in view of the cross. Before you read this list, you might want to check out the other songs I suggested in 2006 and 2007.
Happy Day – Tim Hughes
Uptempo celebration of Christ’s victory over the grave.
The greatest day in history
Death is beaten, you have rescued me
Sing it out, Jesus is alive
His Name is Jesus – Judah Groveman
All Hail the Power with a new chorus.
His name is Jesus, risen Lamb for sinners slain.
A Tomb So Cold – Joel Payne
Uptempo, two verses and bridge.
A tomb so cold, no fitting place
for one whom death could never hold.
You broke the chains, defeated sin,
and glorified you rose again, and you’re reigning
Resurrection Day – Matt Maher
Uptempo song of celebration.
It’s the power in your blood, breaks away sin’s embrace
And we celebrate our freedom dancing on our broken chains
Glorious – Paul Baloche
Mid-tempo song that celebrates the glory of the risen Christ.
Look inside the mystery see the empty cross
See the risen Savior victorious and strong
We Believe – Sam Hargreaves
Uptempo, three verses that explore the suffering Savior, living Savior, and coming Savior.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
You Alone Can Rescue – Matt Redman
Mid-tempo song that emphasizes our inability to save ourselves.
You alone can rescue, You alone can save
You alone can lift us from the grave
Saving One – Starfield
Eminently singable song that proclaims the effects of Christ’s resurrection in our lives.
His love has made a way, the grave is overcome
Jesus is the Christ, the saving One
Christ is Risen – Jeremy Riddle
Anthemic song that celebrates Christ’s victory over the grave. May be better as a special.
Quickly now go tell the world Christ, the Lord, He is risen
The power of death could never hold Him in the grave
Come, Christians Join to Sing – Alt. lyrics vs. 3 and 4 Kevin Hartnett
A great hymn made even better by the lyrical additions of my friend, Kevin Hartnett.
Come, praise the risen Lamb, Alleluia! Amen!
He died to ransom man, Alleluia! Amen!
See What a Morning – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
12/8 triumphant hymn filled with passionate theology.
See God’s salvation plan wrought in love, borne in pain, paid in sacrifice,
Fulfilled in Christ, the Man, for He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
The Power of the Cross – Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
Destined-to-be-a-classic modern hymn that focuses on the meaning of Christ’s sufferings.
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life
“Finished!” the victory cry
The Risen Christ – Keith Getty and Phil Madeira
Hymn-like prayer, asking the triune God to help us know the Risen Christ.
O breath of God, come fill this place
Revive our hearts to know your grace;
And from our slumber make us rise
That we may know the risen Christ.
My Redeemer Lives – Samuel Medley
Some additional lyrics to this hymn on the Cyberhymnal site.
He lives to silence all my fears, He lives to wipe away my tears
He lives to calm my troubled heart, He lives all blessings to impart.
I Will Rise – Chris Tomlin
Chris personalizes the impact of the resurrection and ties it to Christ’s return.
I will rise when he calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain.
Redeemer – Nicole Mullen
A great special, especially if you have a soulful vocalist and choir who can “bring it.”
The same gentle hands that hold me when I’m broken
They conquered death to bring me victory
Okay. That’s my list to get things started. What new (or old) songs have you found that focus on the meaning and significance of Christ’s death and resurrection? If you can give us links and a portion of the lyrics, that’s even better.