Music for Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday
  • Good morning,

    I’m a music director at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brooklyn NY. I’m new to this site and this is my first post. I have a few questions about planning music for Easter Sunday. I’ve been doing this for 2 years but I don’t seem to happy with the lineup that I chose last year.

    1. Do you reuse the same hymns from the Easter Vigil for Easter Sunday, or do you choose different hymns for both liturgies.

    2. Does Jesus Christ Is Risen Today work better as the entrance hymn or the recessional on Easter Sunday?
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,605
    Welcome here! To get better specific answers to your questions, is your parish reliant on a given hymnal or other worship aid resource for programming and, if so, what? The reason the answer to the question is relevant is because it may limit what you can program.
  • Hi Liam,

    My parish uses the Breaking Bread hymnal from OCP. We don’t use worships aids or anything like that.

    Hope this helps

    - Connor
  • To give you a couple quick answers to your questions:

    1. The past couple years I have done the same hymns between the two.

    2. I like it as the recessional, but I know of people who do it for entrance too.

    3. At the Lambs High Feast is my go to for communion during the Easter season.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 839
    The only song at Easter Vigil that I use again on Easter Sunday is "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today": it's the recessional for the Vigil but the entrance on Easter Sunday. Well, the song during the sprinkling rite is also repeated.

    I have used "Ye Sons and Daughters" as a Communion song on Easter Sunday, but this year I'm placing it at the offertory and will sing "Take and Eat" (Joncas) for Communion instead.

    Due to the larger number of people at Mass on Easter Sunday than usual, the Communion song has to be something that will last a long time; it should have many verses. Or have a second Communion song ready to use.
    Thanked by 2Liam LauraKaz
  • For offertory I always use a hymn called “Festival Canticle”. It goes like this

    This Is the Feast of Victory For Our God
    Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • Attached is what our parish did for Easter in 1903, if that helps. ;-) We still do the Werner Regina Caeli.

    Below is what we did last year:

    Easter Vigil

    Offertory Hymn: At the Lamb's High Feast or a choral piece
    Communion Hymns: Alleluia, Alleluia, Let the Holy Anthem Rise
    Alleluia, Alleluia! (HYMN TO JOY)
    Regina Caeli, Werner
    Ye Sons and Daughters
    Recessional Hymn: Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today

    Easter Sunday

    Processional: Alleluia, Alleluia, Let the Holy Anthem Rise
    Sequence: Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today (VICTIMAE PASCHALI)
    Offertory: At the Lamb’s High Feast,
    Communion: Ye Sons & Daughters
    Regina Caeli, Werner
    Alleluia, Alleluia (HYMN TO JOY)
    Recessional: Jesus Christ is Ris’n Today
    312 x 388 - 64K
  • Connor,
    I'm late to the party, obviously, but I think I'm going to offer a different perspective than the others who have commented here so far. Take that for what it's worth.

    The Easter Vigil isn't Easter Morning. This is one point on which the older practice can be helpful. As a thought experiment, listen to (or read, if you have the training) the Introit for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. One is mysterious and subdued, while the other is neither. Something similar is at work at Easter, but since there is no Introit, one can't compare these. Easter morning has the Sequence, while the Vigil doesn't.

    I wouldn't use the same hymns at both, but then I generally think that duplication should be avoided. I would rather sing less polyphony, for example, than sing the same polyphonic piece for weeks at a time.

    The temptation to use the Lutheran rewrite of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is real, but I encourage you to resist the temptation. I've taught congregations This Joyful Eastertide, among other hymns.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,068
    The Vigil is big and long and for musicians a little tiring, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

    But we've sung The Strife Is O’er, with Alleluias, as the last hymn at the (Novus) Vigil, many times, and as the end of the Vigil, and of Lent, and of death, all at once, I think it suits very well. Perhaps Jesus Christ is Risen Today is just a tiny bit too... bouncy for the end of the Vigil.

    But then JCiRT on Sunday!
    Thanked by 1Paul F. Ford
  • davido
    Posts: 632
    I usually do:

    Vigil:
    O: the strife is o’er
    C: at the lamb’s high feast
    R: Jesus Christ is risen today (LYRA DAVIDICA)

    Day:
    E: the strife is o’er
    O: Christ the lord is risen today (LLANFAIR)
    C: at the lambs high feast
    R: Jesus Christ is risen today

    Easter ii:
    E: Christ the lord is risen today
    O: ye sons and daughters (since Easter ii is the St Thomas gospel)
    C: at the lambs high feast
    R: Jesus Christ is risen today (since it’s the octave day of Easter)

    Repetition doesnt much seem to bother pew sitters.
    Thanked by 2Liam LauraKaz
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 167
    @NihilNominis:

    What version of VICTIMAE PASCHALI do you use for the Easter Sequence on Sunday? My home parish uses the one found in Breaking Bread, but I like the translation in GIA’s Worship IV more.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,866
    2. Does Jesus Christ Is Risen Today work better as the entrance hymn or the recessional on Easter Sunday?

    How long is your procession? If they're just coming out from the side of the church, why not both? Do several verses coming and the rest going out. If you can do at least 3 verses, make it the pro- and let something else be the re-

    I haven't had to organize a Triduum. (We're a TLM in a parish church, and the "main choir" gets to do the NO Triduum) but if I did, I don't think I'd do a lot of repetition. Some days seem to ask for it; the octave of the Nativity has it "baked into the cake" with the repeated Propers, and I repeat some things from Ash Wednesday on Lent 1. But the Vigil isn't one of those days; it's not a "vigil mass" in the sense of "get your Sunday obligation done a day early", but very much its own thing. There's a sense of subdued anticipation: we know something big is happening, but it isn't here yet. Maybe that's why we do the baptisms and confirmations, to let the noobs into the secret before it's here. We've got new fire, we're getting ready, we can't wait. But Jesus Christ ISN'T risen at 10PM on Saturday; we don't know that's happened until dawn on Sunday. So I'd save the big triumphant hymns until then.

    Thanked by 1Paul F. Ford
  • CatholicZ09
    Posts: 167
    The only piece of music that transfers over to Easter Sunday from the Vigil is the recessional hymn. In my parish, it’s usually “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” or J. Cummings’ “Christ is Risen from the Dead,” which is an oldie but goodie found in The Parochial Hymnal. “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” is always the entrance hymn on Sunday, and “Christ is Risen from the Dead” is either the offertory or closing hymn on Sunday.
  • What version of VICTIMAE PASCHALI do you use for the Easter Sequence on Sunday? My home parish uses the one found in Breaking Bread, but I like the translation in GIA’s Worship IV more.


    We have BB, so I don’t have the luxury of choice!
  • Entrance - Jesus Is Risen
    Offertory - Festival Canticle: Worthy Is Christ
    Communion - ?
    Recessional - Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

    Thanked by 1canadash
  • Here is an Easter text I wrote for the tune RUSSIA---referencing the Cross in procession.
    https://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/19028/god-has-delivered-us-text-for-easter-or-a-pandemic039s-end#Item_3
  • I was considering Ye Sons and Daughters, but it's usually done the Second Sunday of Easter. Last year I did I Am the Bread of Life, but I don't know if that was appropriate as well
  • Connor,

    I encourage you to resist the temptation to sing I am the bread of life ever again, in any circumstance whatsoever. Look at what the editors have done to the refrain. Sure, the verses try to quote Holy Writ, but that's not the only prerequisite.
    Thanked by 1oldhymns
  • Steve QSteve Q
    Posts: 109
    What version of VICTIMAE PASCHALI do you use for the Easter Sequence on Sunday? My home parish uses the one found in Breaking Bread, but I like the translation in GIA’s Worship IV more.


    Since the Sequence is generally sung by a cantor or schola (with active listening by the congregation, of course), I would think that you could use whichever setting and translation you prefer. I personally prefer the original Latin, which I have always sung regardless of what is in the hymnal. (Does that make me congregation-unfriendly?) For those who use worship aids, the Latin with your preferred translation could be included.

    Also, when sung by schola, I like to have the men only on the verse "Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via?" and have the women responding, "Sepulcrum Christi viventis...". Then men and women are together again on "Scimus Christum surrexisse...".
    Thanked by 1LauraKaz
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,536
    the Sequence is generally sung by a cantor or schola (with active listening by the congregation, of course)

    I have to wonder how much my experience of never having done a non-congregational sequence (we even put sheets in the pews for Contemplate the bread of angels, omitted from the hymnal) actually varies from 'normal' NO Masses.
  • My not-all-that-special NO parish uses the original Latin sequence sung by the schola.