1. “Death Has Lost Its Sting” by Sojourn
This is one of my favorite worship songs of all time. Bluesy, theological sound, and well-executed, this song displays the quality of Sojourn Music. Their album The Water & the Blood, from which this song comes, is a tribute to Isaac Watts and takes his classic hymns and modernizes them in some very unique ways. This is not just neo-hymnody, it is really rewriting these hymns. This album was the second in a two-part project highlighting the hymns of Watts, and received tremendous positive reception among critics and fans. The sound of “Death Has Lost Its Sting” is slow and smooth. The vocals are smokey and passionate. You feel like you could be in a jazz club listening to the gospel preached through song. The song boasts of Christ victory over death, and Satan, and hell, as the chorus proclaims: My God has broke the serpent’s teeth and death has lost its sting. The song is also special to me because my wife sings it phenomenally well!
2. “How Deep” by King’s Kaleidoscope
This contemporary hymn was written by Stuart Townend, but it has been performed by many different artists. This i my favorite version. King’s Kaleidoscope has such a unique approach to worship music. They have been categorized as orchestral indie pop, with their band consisting of an eclectic mix of brass, woodwind, and string instruments, alongside a more traditional worship band. This group takes the original hymn and simply gives it a great twist, upbeat pop, and driving build.
3. “Death in His Grave” by John Mark McMillan
Here is another indie worship song that has reached some level of popularity in contemporary Christian music. In many ways the song feels reminiscent of the title of an old Puritan theological work: The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. McMillan sings of the victory of Christ over death as he recounts the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of our Lord. It is a powerful song and in the live video version it has a climactic build empowered by theological truth and impassioned music.
4. “Mystery” by Charlie Hall
I remember fondly singing this worship song with a previous church, and I can’t help whenever I hear it to recall the sweetness of those memories. Yet, the song clearly has a deeper memory associated with it – the death and resurrection of Christ. Hall connects a number of doctrinal points in this beautiful worship song: Incarnation, Communion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Return of Christ. It is a beautiful Easter song for all these reasons and invites us to reflect not simply on what has been, but on what will be because “Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again.”
5. “A Stick, A Carrot, & String” by Mewithoutyou
This is the most unconventional easter song on this playlist, but its unconventional nature is exactly what drew me to it. Mewithoutyou is a compelling, strange, fascinating, and artist band. Their style usually consists of spoken-word vocals, though on this track there is more of an attempt at singing by Aaron Weiss. This particular song takes listeners on a tour of the liturgical calendar, walking from the birth of Christ to crushing of the serpent’s head. Along the way it speaks to our fears and brokenness and invites us to come to this lowly and great King.