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O n Easter Sunday, the church joyfully celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This special day is the high point of the church year. As we celebrate Christ’s triumph over death, we remember, too, that Christ invites us into new life—eternal life—with him. During the preceding season of Lent, Christians repent and remember our mortality, dying to self and being made new in Christ. On Easter, we yearn for the day when our bodies will also be resurrected through the salvation of Jesus. This page offers Easter worship ideas to help you honor this important day.

Easter and the seven weeks following are known as Eastertide, the oldest celebrated liturgical season of the church year. The liturgical color for this time is white, signifying purity and joy. The season of Easter ends with the Day of Pentecost, which comes 50 days after Easter.

While Easter Sunday worship is rightfully special, it is important to note that each Sunday is a “little Easter,” celebrating Christ’s resurrection throughout the year.

Easter Vigil

Some churches traditionally hold an Easter vigil service, either late on Saturday evening or early on Sunday morning. The vigil carries a sense of longing and yearning as worshipers wait for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. A vigil service typically presents a biblical overview of redemption, covering both Old and New Testament readings. Worshipers usually gather outside in darkness and process into the sanctuary or worship space. If the Christ candle has been carried out of the sanctuary during a Good Friday service, the candle is now brought back into the sanctuary during this procession. Light and the joyful proclamation of the resurrection end the vigil.

>> Read more: an in-depth introduction and a sample liturgy for an Easter vigil

>> Related: a liturgy for a sunrise service

Liturgy Ideas

Included here are just a few calls to worship, prayers, Scripture passages, and songs you can use in your Easter worship. Another great reference and guide, if available to you, is The Worship Sourcebook, published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. It’s an excellent collection of prayers, texts, and litanies, with worship resources for every church season.

Call to Worship

When we gather to worship, it is necessary to focus our minds, our hearts, and our attention on him. The following calls to worship are based in Scripture.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Jesus Christ, in your triumph over the grave and your resurrection from death, the heavens and earth rejoice!
We praise you, O God! For you have made us victorious over sin!
On the mountain of the Lord, all people will feast and all wine shall be poured!
We praise you, O God! For you have prepared a table before us and our cups overflow!
The Lord has swallowed up death forever; the Lord has wiped away the tears from all faces!
We praise you, O God! For you have brought us from death to life!
The disgrace of God’s people has been taken away from the earth because the Lord has spoken!
We praise you, O God! For you have given us joy and gladness!
The God of glory has found our hearts.
The Lord of eternity has established our home.
We sing praises to God, for he is good.
We worship the Lord, for love has come near!

The Son of God has ransomed us to glory,
The Servant of the Lord has surpassed all death.
We fear our God, who reigns on high.
We exalt the Lord, for he has set forth goodness!

Even in tombs and secret places, God has triumphed.
Even on the hills and mountaintops, the Lord has called us to worship.
We are the chosen people of God! We are the righteous of Jacob!

God has created a new heavens and a new earth.
The Lord has established Zion amongst us peoples.
We are the chosen people of God! We are the righteous of Jacob!

—Adapted from Psalm 118 and Isaiah 65

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Call to Confession and Assurance of Pardon

1. Call to Confession

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us,
for indeed, all that we have done,
you have done for us.
-Isaiah 26:12

Assurance of Pardon

Sung Response: “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today!”
OR
The Nicene Creed

2. Call to Confession

Sung Response: “Rejoice, the Lord Is King,” verses 1 and 2

Prayer of Confession

Jesus Christ, our risen Lord,
We rejoice, for you, O Lord, are King!
It is in our hearts and on our tongues that we confess your lordship
and we commit to your graces our shortcomings.

(silent reflection)

Sung Response: “Rejoice, the Lord is King,” verses 5 and 6

Assurance of Pardon

Before they call I will answer
While they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox;
But the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.

—Isaiah 65:24-25

Prayers for Easter

These prayers specifically focus on Christ’s resurrection, curated for use in Easter worship. Pray these with one leader, as a call and response, or as a congregation.

Easter Prayer for Mercy

Almighty God, in raising Jesus from the tomb you have given us the sure sign of your power to deliver us from sin and death and to renew our whole creation. We confess that we still fall into doubt and fear. We continue to cling to selfish ways and doubt your power to make all things new. Forgive our lack of faith. Have mercy on our weakness. Raise us from the death of sin that we may live with Christ in the joy of his resurrection, now and forever.

–Written by John Paarlberg, retired RCA minister of Word and sacrament

Resurrection Prayer

Glorious Lord of life, by the mighty resurrection of your Son, you overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him. Grant that we who celebrate with joy Christ’s rising from the dead, may be raised from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Easter Prayer of Consecration

Lord, thank you for the victory of Christ over death. Through this resurrection, righteousness prevailed over evil and thus all are given hope. Grant us victory of love over hate, faith over fear, truth over lies, and strength over weakness. O God, as you led the Israelites to victory in war, please lead us to your promised land. The war we fight is without blades. Your truth is our sword. May our lives be consecrated to help bring victory over evil. Bless our efforts, we pray. In Christ’s name. Amen.

–Written by Rev. Chestina Mitchell Archibald

Easter Prayer of Praise

Risen Lord, Eternal and Almighty God, we come to you, today, rescued by your holiness. You have so loved us that you have sent your only Son, our Lord, into this world for the forgiveness of sins and for the reconciliation of justice. We humble our hearts in praise and virtue. Give to us the love you have promised, the hope you have embodied, the life you have christened. Have mercy upon us and hear our prayers.

(silent reflection)

May we praise you this day and all days to come.
Hallelujah! Christ has died!
Hallelujah! Christ is risen!
Hallelujah! Christ will come again!
Amen.

Scripture Readings

This sampling of Scripture passages highlight the resurrection of Christ and the new life he brings. Verses may be read during Easter worship or used as the basis of a sermon or meditation.

The resurrection story

  • Matthew 18:1-10
  • Mark 16
  • Luke 24:1-12
  • John 20:1-18
Raised with Christ

  • John 11:25-27
  • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
  • 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
  • Romans 6:1-14
New creation

  • Isaiah 65:17-25
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
  • 1 Peter 1:3-9

Song Suggestions

In many churches, congregational singing is an important part of worshiping the risen Lord. A sampling of hymns and worship songs are listed here for your consideration as you select songs for your church’s Easter worship. Many of these songs can be found in the Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal or on Hymnary.org. When you use recordings in worship, be sure to have the correct permissions.

  • “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today”
  • “Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing”
  • “Lift High the Cross”
  • “See, What a Morning”
  • “Alleluia! Alleluia! Hearts to Heaven”
  • “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I”
  • “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”
  • “Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanna”
  • “Low in the Grave He Lay”
  • “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”
  • “The Strife Is O’er, the Battle Done”

About the author

Becky Getz is a writer and editor for the Reformed Church in America's communication team.