“And He Shall Reign Forever and Ever. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.”
-George Frideric Handel, The Messiah (1741)
April festivities began before sunrise on April 1st for several of us at Uptown Violins! We had the privilege of participating in Easter services in three different states throughout the country.
Growing up, Easter was always a special time for us as a family. I remember waking up and hurrying downstairs to see if the Easter Bunny had filled my basket with goodies, piling it high with malted milk ball eggs, chocolate bunnies, and yellow peeps. The Easter Bunny’s jellybean hunt was always a huge hit, although I ate the goodies so fast not many of them actually made it into my basket! My sisters and I always loved reading the tales of the Easter Bunny, especially The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward (1939). It is a charming tale about a little bunny who dreams of becoming one of the five Easter Bunnies when she grows up. Everyone tells her it is impossible, but even after she has a large family (of twenty-one baby rabbits!) she proves to the world that she deserves to be one of the five. She hops all over the world, delivering colored eggs to children everywhere before returning home with a basket for her own babies, wearing a magical pair of golden shoes. My sisters and I loved this story so much we would act it out, with me as the mother bunny, my sisters as the babies, and extra stuffed animals to fill in as the remaining bunnies.
On Easter we always attended church, often listening to our mother sing with the choir or play in the pit orchestra for the Easter cantata. In the evening our parents led us in a time of family worship, for which we sang the beautiful Easter hymns “Up From the Grave He Arose” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Afterwards, Dad gave a devotional on the importance of Christ’s death and Resurrection to our Christian faith. Although Easter was particularly special, my parents led us in these devotions every Sunday night throughout the year, helping us to better understand the life and work of Jesus.
Now, although we can’t all be together each year for this special holiday, we continue our Easter traditions in our own communities, with our own families. In Dallas Kerri played for a Good Friday service, and Brittany performed several for Easter. She even had the opportunity to accompany Christian recording artist, Jeremy Riddle while he sang “All Hail King Jesus!”
In Kansas City Sheree contributed to the Good Friday service at her church, playing the poignant worship songs “My Savior King,” “Broken Vessels,” and “Provide.” Allison sang with her church choir in Wichita, while also celebrating the holiday with Christy and our Dad. Stacy. In Illinois, I had the opportunity to play for Good Friday and Easter morning services at my local church. I especially enjoyed playing my friend’s spine-tingling arrangement of the hymn “Stricken and Smitten,” as well as accompanying the choir on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from his famous baroque oratorio The Messiah. Afterwards I “hopped” back home in sparkling silver shoes (apparently silver ones have no magical powers) to fill my own daughter’s Easter basket with goodies, and to hide the jellybeans for the jellybean hunt. And of course, I had to read The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, in the hopes that one day she will carry on our Easter traditions with her own family.