Kristine has known my sweetheart since they were in grade school, and I am so glad to have gotten to know her recent years. According to Robert, his first memory of live music is hearing Kristine play the piano in a school talent show. I am so grateful to her for introducing him to the art long before I came around! As part of the How Can I Keep from Singing series Kristine writes about a classic Easter hymn.
Before I start my story, the song I have chosen to write about is “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” by Charles Wesley. Being the child of a Catholic church organist, I practically lived in church, I probably know every Catholic hymn there is to be known – in English or in latin! But out of all those songs, there are many reasons why this particular one speaks to me and floods my mind with memories.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to sing in the choir with my big sister, Suzie. Since there was 8 years between her and I, there was a long gap where I was forced to listen to the choir.
From a young age, I can remember hearing “Jesus Christ has Risen Today” on Easter morning when my mom would pull out all the stops on the organ and even play the chimes…it was SO exciting I could practically jump out of my pew!! I can remember sitting with my Nana in the front row (every Sunday – I used to think we got special seating because mom was the organist) and listening to her singing oh so loudly – in her precious, old lady, “wobbly” soprano voice. But best of all was listening to the choir and hearing my sister sing. Suzie has a beautiful, strong soprano voice that was unmistakable among the rest of the choir. I knew every word, and I would sit in awe of her and listen as she sang the descant high above the other sopranos. And I wished I could sing like her.
Fast forward, to junior high, when I was finally old enough to sing in the choir instead of just listening! What a thrill it was when I was asked to sing the descant to “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” along with my sister in the soprano section!
I chose to have my beloved song at my wedding, the week after Easter. My mom obviously couldn’t play the organ on my wedding day, but I gave specific instructions to the fill-in to pull out all the stops out and play the chimes. I even had it sung in 4 part harmony – with descant, of course!
But it wasn’t until years later that I realized the meaning of this song. For years I had been hearing it – the beautiful, joyful, majestic notes of the song – but never really pondered the meaning of the words. This song is describes what it means to be a Christian. Jesus suffered for us – and died- and rose triumphantly, and is seated next to God the Father –“where the angels ever sing”! It is the ultimate worship song! Finally realizing that was so profound.
I have since left the Catholic church, and I don’t hear this song anymore, but every Easter I have to Youtube my favorite song, and all those memories come flooding back, and I rejoice for the great sacrifice Jesus has made for me and that he is preparing a place for me in heaven! Alleluia!
Jesus Christ is Risen Today,
Our triumphant holy day,
Who did once upon the cross,
Suffered to redeem our loss,
Hymns of Praise then let us sing,
Unto Christ our heavenly King,
Who endured the cross and grave,
Sinners to redeem and save
But the pain which He endured,
Our salvation hath procured,
Now above the sky he’s King,
Where the angels ever sing, Alleluia!
Sing we to our God above,
Praise eternal as His love,
Praise Him all you heavenly host,
Father son and Holy Ghost,
Kristine Haas lives in Rockland, MA and is a family daycare provider in her home. She is the proud mother of three boys, all musicians: one a professional guitar player in Atlanta and the other two drummers and singers. With her husband she is also a foster parent.
Kristine grew up singing in the choir and folk group at St Jerome’s Church in North Weymouth where her mother is organist. In high school she was in concert choir, participated in the New England and District Festivals, and received the National Choral Award in 1988. In college she sang briefly with the Fine Arts Chorale in Weymouth, and currently sings with Jubilate Chorale in Easton, MA.