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Father Muench Says...

Easter - a time for song and dance

April 4, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Happy Easter to you all! This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad! 

Christ is risen! Truly He is Risen!

I send to you all my Easter blessings.  I promise to all of you a special remembrance in my prayers and Masses during this Easter season as we continue to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.

Easter is celebrated by our Church for more than one day.  Easter is a season for us, celebrated for several weeks until we reach the Feast of Ascension Thursday.

As disciples of Jesus, the happiness of the Resurrection of Jesus changes everything.  Each and every one of us is transformed by the resurrection of Jesus.  Our Savior lives! When we speak of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior, we use the present tense.  Jesus is, Jesus lives – in our lives in our time.

I would like to share with you today a little about Easter music.  At Christmas time, we all sing Christmas carols (at least the first verse).  These songs tell us of what we believe about the Birth of Jesus in very poetic language.

The same is true of Easter.  There are many wonderful Easter hymns though we don’t remember them as well as the Christmas songs.

The Easter hymn that comes to my mind first will be familiar to you also – “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”.  Like many of the other Easter hymns the expression that comes up often in this hymn is “Alleluia”.  Alleluia is such a powerful word – meaning “Praise the Lord.  Many is the ordinary person who expresses joy especially at discovery shouts out “Alleluia”.

The words of the first verse of this hymn express our Easter joy: “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!  Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia! Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!  Suffer to redeem our loss, Alleluia!”
Each of the Easter hymns celebrates the excitement of Christ’s resurrection.  Jesus came to this earth to be one of us – incarnate in every way – to bring to us a new life and the love of our God. 

Jesus’ message for all time is of God’s great love for us all – a compassionate, forgiving love.  Jesus demonstrated God’s love for us all by his life and crucifixion and by his resurrection to new life.  Easter celebrates all of this.

Here I would like to share one other Easter hymn with you.  I am certain this is my favorite.  This hymn comes to us from the religious group, the Shakers.  The hymn is “The Lord of the Dance.”  It is a simple, yet, powerful message.  The Shakers actually had a simple dance that they used in their spirituality. 

The refrain of this song indicates the heart of the song’s message:  “Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he. I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, I will lead you all in the Dance, said he.”
We celebrate Easter with a dance.  The dance is a celebration of gratitude.  Each verse of the song mentions a time in the life of Jesus. There is a verse about the birth of Jesus, then another about the calling of the apostles, then one about Christ’s sufferings and crucifixion – and, finally, the last verse about the resurrection of Jesus. 

This is the last verse: “They cut me down and I leapt up high, -I am the life that’ll never, never die. I’ll live in you if you live in me; I am the Lord of the Dance, “ said he.

Resurrection is about life and love.  There is a reminder of the apostle’s joy at Christ’s resurrection.  That joy is ours today.  The joy reminds us that one day, we believe, we will find new life with the Lord in our own resurrection.

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