Alleluia! Christ is Risen: An Easter carol service with procession

This service was adapted from an annual Festal Service of Easter Lessons and Carols with Procession developed in Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa, over a period of decades. It brings together many traditional elements of Christian worship in celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. Through readings and carols and congregational hymns, the service recalls the prophecies and the events leading up to and following the resurrection, and concludes by looking forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

The service follows without interruption. Printed instructions in the bulletin instruct worshipers when to sit and stand and sing. The choir processes dressed in robes. The atmosphere is festive, celebratory.

The first carols listed were sung by the choir of Christ Church. Some alternative options for carols and hymns are also included from Voices United (VU), the new hymnal of the United Church of Canada (1996), which includes a wonderfully rich and fresh selection of Easter songs. Voices United is available from the Hymn Society Book Service (1-800-THE HYMN).


[Please stand as the procession appears.]


The choir sings the hymn "Jesus Lives! Thy Terrors Now" to a twelfth-century melody, CHRIST 1ST ERSTANDEN (from TheHymnbook, the 1971 hymnal of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada).

[The procession halts at the chancel steps]

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
This is the day which the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious.
For his mercy endureth forever. Amen.

Carol: "This Joyful Eastertide" PsH 403, RL 328, TH 284

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.


Hymn: "The Strife Is O'er, the Battle Done" PsH 391, PH 119, RL 319, TH 275, TWC 233

[the procession moves into the chancel]

The Bidding Prayer (concluded by the Lord's Prayer)

Carol: "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" PsH 388, PH 113, RL 325, SFL 172, TH 277, TWC 234
First Lesson: Jeremiah 31:1-6

God's everlasting love is proclaimed to his people.

Carol:" The Bellman's Song" (English, arr. M. Shaw)
Alt. "Midnight Sharpness, Starfields, Fading" VU 181

Second Lesson: Isaiah 52:7-10, 13-15
The prophet foretells the coming of the Savior.

Carol: "Mary's Wandering" (German, arr. M. Shaw)
Alt. "This Is the Day" (Sleeth) VU 175, SFL 175

Third Lesson: Revelation 21:1-7
Saint John speaks of the New Jerusalem.

Hymn: "Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing" PsH 397, PH 111, RL 326, TH 270, TEC 255

Fourth Lesson: Luke 24:1-9
The women find the empty tomb.

Carol: "Wondrous Works" (English, arr. M. Shaw)
Alt. "Who Is There on This Easter Morning" VU 176

Fifth Lesson: John 20:19-31
Jesus reveals himself to the disciples and to Thomas.
[While the procession is being made ready Bach's Chorale Prelude "Heut' triumphiret Gottes Sohn" shall be played on the organ.]

The Lord is risen from the tomb
who for our sakes hung upon the Tree. Alleluia.

Hymn: "O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing" PsH 393, PH 116, 117, TH 272, TWC 249

Tell it out among the heathen
that the Lord hath reigned from the Tree.

O almighty and eternal God, the strength of those who believe and the hope of those who doubt; may we, who have not seen, have faith and receive the fullness of Christ's blessing; who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Hymn: "Alleluia Alleluia, Give Thanks" PsH 402, VU 179

[at the altar]

Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more;
Death hath no more dominion over him.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once.
But in that he lives, he lives unto God.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin;
But alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God, Lord of life and power, through the mighty resurrection of thy Son, thou hast overcome the old order of sin and death and hast made all things new in him; may we, being dead to sin and alive to thee in Jesus Christ, come to be with him in glory, who with thee and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever.


The Offering

Hymn: "Lord of the Dance" (Hope, Augsburg, and Galaxy have each published choral settings of this traditional Shaker melody)

[The congregation is invited to stand and join with the choir on the refrain.]

[at the altar]

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.

[The congregation kneels in silent prayer.]

O God, who makes us glad with the yearly remembrance of the resurrection from the dead of thy only Son Jesus Christ: grant that we who celebrate this Paschal feast may die daily unto sin, and live with him evermore in the glory of his endless life; through the same Jesus Christ our risen Lord.

The Blessing

May he who like a lamb was led to the slaughter, and like a lion doth overthrow the powers of evil, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with you all evermore. Amen.

The Epilogue: Acts 1:3-4

Hymn: "Thine Is the Glory!" VU 173

Reformed Worship 46 © December 1997, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.