Fresh Easter music that glorifies God, edifies the saints, and proclaims the gospel.

What cantata shall we do this Easter?” is an almost annual question in churches. Cantatas are instant programs, constituting a complete concert within an average evening service. A good cantata achieves two major goals: spiritually it leads the congregation in worship, and provides a musical means of edification and evangelism; technically it can give a choir mired in routine material routinely performed a renewed sense of challenge and achievement.

Since most church music ministries operate with limited financial resources, expenditures for new music must be made with great care. Any cantata chosen should be not only of sufficient worth to merit later repeat performances, but also allow extraction of individual selections.

Unfortunately, too often the musical values of a work are subservient to production techniques. For example, quality of performance is frequently sacrificed to achieve some arbitrary, unusual choral formation. Promotion is sometimes directed toward surface, rather than service, considerations, making the appeal more of a public relations effort than genuine ministry. Such excesses have frequently resulted in disappointed and frustrated choirs and directors, who feel they have been manipulated for the sake of either profit or promotion.

In the past few years, a number of compositions have appeared which have stood well above the rest. All of the works here reviewed merit subsequent performances, provide material for general usage, and have a strong worship and musical impact upon people.

One of the finest recent Easter cantatas, and a rich worship experience, is Worthy Is the Lamb, by Don Wyrtzen, Lynne and Phil Brower (Zondervan). ...

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