By Kirk Petersen
It turns out the Episcopal Church was not alone in its inspiration to create a virtual choir for Easter.
As previously reported, the Church’s rendition of “The Strife is O’er” debuted Easter Sunday, April 12, as part of the online worship service at the National Cathedral. TLC spoke with the team responsible for the project and published a behind-the-scenes report for the magazine’s May 17 issue, which went to press May 1.
The ink was barely dry before the Archbishop of Canterbury posted on May 3 a link on his Facebook page to an ecumenical virtual choir recorded by singers from dozens of churches in the United Kingdom. Many of the participating churches were part of the Church of England, but Catholics, Coptics, Methodists, and members of the Church of God and non-denominational churches were all represented.
While the Episcopal choir chose a hymn with roots in the 16th century, the UK choir went with a song written in 2020: “The Blessing,” a contemporary praise hymn originally released as a single on March 20 by a Christian band called Elevation Worship. The band is the musical ministry of Elevation Church, a multi-site Southern Baptist church based in North Carolina.
“The Blessing” has a very non-Anglican feel to it, but the opening stanza will be instantly recognized by Episcopalians as a common benediction, based on Numbers 6:24-26:
The Lord bless you
And keep you
Make his face shine upon you
And be gracious to you
The Lord turn His face towards you
And give you peace
A bit of digging around social media revealed several other virtual choirs that covered “The Blessing” before the UK. Churches across South Africa posted a bilingual version in English and Xhosa on April 30. Members of the non-denominational Christ Church Choir in Nashville, Tennessee, posted their version on April 26. Highpoint Church, a multi-campus, non-denominational church in Illinois, posted on April 22. Nearly 30 churches in Pittsburgh: April 10. Each version is unique, and worth a listen.
All of these entities went through an enormous amount of work (see TLC‘s “Behind the Scenes of the Virtual Easter Choir“) to produce videos of a song published for the first time in late March. That suggests there might have been a coordinated marketing effort involved. The band published lyrics, a chord chart and other resources on its website, but TLC was unable to immediately contact anyone involved with the band or the church. Because lockdown.