Easter Songs and Prayers

By Jessica Wolstenholm

We’re looking at popular Easter songs and prayers. Please share some of your own favorites in the comments!


Easter Songs and Prayers

From the earliest days of the church, Easter has been celebrated with prayers and songs. This first took the form of a vigil that included the reading of scriptures and psalms.[1] Today different Christian traditions say and sing all manner of hymns and prayers. Below are some examples.


Easter Songs

There are many Easter hymns that are either shared among or specific to different Christian traditions. One author lists seven Easter themes, each with a fitting hymn:[2]

    • Resurrection: “The Day of Resurrection, earth tell it out abroad.”
    • Life: “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
    • Light: “Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light.”
    • Joy: “Joyful, joyful, we adore thee.”
    • Beauty: “Beautiful Savior, King of Creation.”
    • Victory: “Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son.”
    • Hope: “Hope of the world, thou Christ of Great Compassion.”

Most of the time, Easter hymns appear in a specific section of the hymnal or liturgical book. There are many favorites that cross denominational borders, such as, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”:

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia
Sons of men and angels say: Alleluia
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth, reply: Alleluia


Easter Prayers

The Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours, also referred to as the Divine Office or Breviary, includes the official set prayers of the church offered at various times during the day. Below are two prayers from Easter Sunday liturgies:

God our Father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.[1]

Today, Lord, through Your only-begotten Son, the conqueror of death, You re-open the way to heaven for us. May Your grace inspire rightful desires in us and help us also in their fulfillment. This we ask of You through the same Jesus Christ. Amen.[2]

The Lutheran Altar Book

The Lutheran Altar Book aids the minister in leading congregational worship. The following prayers are for Easter day:

Almighty God the Father, through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ you have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. [3]

O God, for our redemption you have given your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection you have delivered us from the power of our enemy. Therefore grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day a new man may arise to live before you in righteousness and purity forever; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.[4]

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer is the liturgical prayer book of the Anglican church. The prayer below is used in the Easter Day liturgy:

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.[5]

The Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Book of Common Worship

God of mercy, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive and has become the Lord of life. From the waters of death you raise us with him and renew your gift of life within us. Increase in our minds and hearts the risen life we share with Christ, and help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life with you, through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.[6]

Other Works

Almighty, everlasting God, on this day you conquered death through your son and opened for us the path to eternal life. And so we celebrate in joy the feast of his resurrection. Make us new through your Spirit, so that we too may rise and walk in the light of life. We ask this through Jesus Christ.[7]

O God, of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things are made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[8]

Master! It seems too good to be true! But you come to us, call us by our name, joyfully laugh with us, – and it is true! Living Lord, you were dead, really dead, dead and buried – But God has raised you to life, and, with your risen life, begins a new creation! . . . Living Lord, prove it true: come to us now, call us by our name, breathe peace over us, and give us a new lease on life![9]

[1] Christian Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1976), 428-29.

[2] The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, prepared by the staff of The Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1963), 1188.
[3] Lutheran Worship: Altar Book, prepared by The Commission on Worship of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (St. Louis: Concordia, 1982), 196.
[4] Ibid.
[5] The Book of Common Prayer (London: Canterbury Press Norwich, 2008), 218.
[6] Book of Common Worship, prepared by The Theology and Worship Ministry Unit for the PCUSA (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993), 316.
[7] Henri J. M. Nouwen, Show Me the Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 140.
[8] The Divine Hours, Prayers for Springtime: A Manual for Prayer, compiled by Phyllis Tickle (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 356.
[9] Ken Taylor, Praying the Passion: Daily Readings & Prayers for Lent (Nashville: Abingdon, 2000), 101

[1] John Bowden, “Festivals and Fasts,” in Encyclopedia of Christianity, ed. John Bowden (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 464.
[2] Paul M. Lindberg, A Book of Easter (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965), 48-50.