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RESOURCE: Select Easter musicals early


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Most ministers of music are able to take a breath between Christmas and Easter productions, allowing choir members to recover from busy holiday performances before gearing up for spring services.

With the 2008 calendar throwing a kink into the plans with an earlier than usual Easter on March 23, LifeWay Worship and LifeWay Music Service are offering tips and resources for music ministers faced with a shortened rehearsal schedule.

LifeWay Worship director Mike Harland, a former music minister himself, is familiar with the challenge of back-to-back Christmas and Easter performances.

“As a minister of music, the first thing I did before I started my Christmas program was to find out when Easter was the following year,” Harland said. “You don’t get your choir back after your Christmas performance until mid-January. It can be a challenge.”

For music ministers looking for a shorter, easier Easter musical, Harland recommends a new production by LifeWay Worship titled “The Risen Christ” by Dave Williamson, Don Cason and Karla Worley who wrote “In Christ Alone.” The video includes footage from “The Visual Bible” film “Matthew.”

“The production is driven by DVD, so it is very visually interactive,” Harland said. “It isn’t drama-intensive, but very dramatic.”


Based on his personal experience as a music minister, Harland also suggested a general spring performance versus an Easter-specific one.

“At a couple of churches, I did a spring production the same week every year, like the first week of May, instead of doing an Easter one,” Harland recounted. “There are challenges to that, too, but it helped with the rehearsal schedule.”

For churches considering a spring performance, Harland recommended LifeWay Worship’s “3:16: The Numbers of Hope” by Travis Cottrell and based on the book and study by Max Lucado.

“3:16 can be done anytime, and it is a very evangelistic musical with no drama,” Harland said. “And it has a strong Gospel presentation.”

LifeWay Music Service, a department of LifeWay Christian Stores, provides choral music, accompaniment tracks and orchestrations from more than 400 music publishers including LifeWay Worship.

“If it is in print, we can get it from any publisher across the country,” said Mike Wilkins, manager of LifeWay Music Service. “If God has laid it on your heart to do it, we can find it.”

An early Easter is no problem for LifeWay’s music service staff because of quick shipment turnarounds and a wide variety of productions, he said.

Wilkins noted that extended anthems also are available that “work well for an Easter Sunday morning service versus a big production.”

Wilkins and his staff all have degrees in music or extensive experience in church music. The staff is familiar with most musical pieces and is ready to help churches select the right musical performance for their choir size and experience as well as production specifications.

“If a church calls and says, ‘We are a choir of 20 people and we are not accomplished musicians, and we want something with narration,’ we can help,” Wilkins said.

Music ministers also can listen to sample tracks of performances online and find out the level of difficulty or length of a production through the LifeWay Music Service catalog, Wilkins said.
Jenny Rice is a corporate communications specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.