Easter is a joyful time of the year accented with the bursts of color from tulips, daffodils and crocuses and, if you’re in the northern hemisphere, a determined sun squeezing through the winter clouds.
Nothing lifts the spirits and generates hope like music, and when you combine it with the early signs of life that come with spring, it’s just happiness like no other. It’s wonderful that we get this every year and can plan accordingly with the right music to herald the start of a new season.
Classical Easter music
There are many great classical pieces of music that were written with Easter celebrations in mind, such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture which premiered in 1888. The composer tells the story of the night before and the morning of Easter Sunday in this highly descriptive piece which is considered one of his greatest works.
Of course, to find the most profound music relating to Easter one needs to look to the church organ. When considering the “organ vs piano”, it’s essential to note the unique characteristics of each instrument. A church organ can have up to 4 “manuals”, each one looking like a short piano keyboard. Apart from the manuals (played with the hands), church organs also have a “pedalboard” with black and white keys arranged like a piano keyboard which operate the lowest notes. Called “the king of instruments” for a reason – the organ can make earth-shaking, goose-bump raising sounds.
Listen to “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”, arranged by Rutter here for a stirring rendition of bells, organ, choir and orchestra.
Easter Piano music
The only thing better than listening to such inspiring music is to be able to sit at the piano and play some uplifting Easter songs yourself! We’ve chosen the top ten songs we think you’ll love playing for your family this Easter. They will enhance the feeling of rejoicing and renewal.
“Angels” was written by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers and included on Williams’ first solo album. It has been covered numerous times. If you’re new to playing the piano, this is a really good one to learn.
This anthemic song by Paul McCartney of the Beatles is a beautiful song full of hope and portrays coming to terms with things and feeling peaceful acceptance. The reference to “mother Mary” is in fact referring to Paul’s mother who died when he was just 14 years old. He claims the idea for the song came to him in a dream. Skoove teaches you to play this song using chords.
“Imagine” – written by John Lennon and inspired by Yoko Ono’s poetry. This is a great song conjuring peace in the world with all the complications and division between religions and nations melted away. It’s a great song for Easter when we are filled with hope and new beginnings.
“Heal the World” by Michael Jackson
First recorded by Michael Jackson in 1991, this song’s official video shows many children going through hard times and then having a better life. The lyrics implore the world to do better, protect and value children’s lives more, and be more peaceful. Michael Jackson performed the song live at the 1993 superbowl. Play this song now.
“Praise You” by Fatboy Slim
Fatboy Slim released “Praise You” in 1999. The simplicity and repetition of the lyrics makes it easy to interpret them in many ways. For Easter, it’s easy to attach them to a Christian sentiment. You can start playing “Praise You” right now with this tutorial on Skoove:
“Hallelujah” Written by Leonard Cohen in 1984, this song remained unpopular with Cohen’s original recording. It was featured in the film “Shrek” in 2001 and this propelled it into popularity. Since then, there have been well over 300 covers of the song. The simplicity of the melody might be what makes it so compelling. Learn this beautiful song now with Skoove.
This inspiring melody by Ludwig van Beethoven was inspired by the poem of the same name and is one of the most famous tunes of our time. It is often used as protest music during difficult political times, as well as for triumphant celebrations.
The opening words: “Joy, Beautiful spark of divinity” are perfect for Easter and spring celebrations while Beethoven’s tune is itself uplifting and powerful. It comes from his 9th symphony and was the first time any composer wrote for a choir within a symphonic work. It was a triumph right from its first performance. This is a good melody to learn if you’re new to piano. Now it’s your turn to play this iconic tune with Skoove.
“Candle in the Wind”
“Candle in the Wind” by Elton John is an anthemic standard across the world with deeply affecting lyrics. Elton John wrote the original song about Marilyn Monroe and rewrote the lyrics for the funeral of Princess Diana in 1995, where he performed it live. Enjoy playing this beautiful song right now.
“Morning has Broken”
Although this song is linked to Cat Stevens who recorded it as part of his album “Teaser and the Firecat” in 1971, it is actually a Christian Hymn that was originally written in 1931. The tune from “Morning has Broken”originates from the Scottish Isles and the words were originally a Christmas carol written by poet Mary MacDonald.
This song captures beautifully the feeling of waking up to an early spring morning in peaceful countryside and the wonder of living things awakening as the sun light falls on them.
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”
And finally – “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from the film “The Life of Brian” by the Monty Python team. The ironic song, encouraging “Brian” to look on the bright side as he’s being crucified, became a huge success when the film was released in 1979.
A really good sing-along song (with whistling instrumental optional!) this is a fun song to play for Easter entertainment.
For inspiring music to listen to during the Easter season, here is a playlist Spotify playlist of Easter music.
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Author of this blog post:
Georgina St George has been playing piano most of her life. She has a thriving piano school on the south coast of England. She loves to infuse her students with her passion for music, composing and performing. Her music has been featured on over 100 TV shows and her musicals have been performed in New York and London’s West End.