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The Perfect Easter Set List

The Perfect Easter Set List

By Erica Boutwell on March 14, 2017

*** SPOILER ALERT! You will not find that list here, but you will find what hopefully will be some thought-provoking tips on putting yours together and even some resources to help in the process.

For the worship leader, one of the year’s highlights but most difficult tasks is that of putting together the set list for Easter weekend. We’d venture to say that most start thinking about it as soon as they get on the other side of the current year’s celebration. We keep a running list of possible songs and then as soon as Christmas is over we hit the ground running mulling over every possible combination of titles. But there are so many moving parts and components to consider that it’s just not as easy as whipping out the 5 most popular songs from that year. Some of the things we have to think about are:

  • The personality of the worshippers in your church
    • Are they more expressive or more subdued? This question is very important. If you lead a more passionate, charismatic congregation, you definitely want to allow them plenty of opportunities to worship freely, but you also want to pick songs that will draw them to a place of introspection and contemplation. For the more reflective and meditative crowds, you don’t want to make them so uncomfortable that you lose them by doing a bunch of high energy songs, but you also want to get them out of their comfort zones to celebrate in a way that challenges them a little.
  • The prominent age and demographic of your people
    • If you serve at an older church whose majority is made up of those from the more “experienced” generations, you may find that they respond more to the older hymns but are open to one or two newer songs. Whereas, if you are leading a group of those not raised in the church, songs of more than about five years old may not resonate. 
  • The theme of the weekend
    • This may seem like a no brainer given that it’s Easter, but your pastor may be approaching the weekend from a very specific perspective (i.e. love, grace, salvation, etc . . .). So you will want to choose songs that draw the people’s minds and hearts to that particular idea.
  • Those first-timers or twice-a-yearers (not a Webster-approved word, but I’m working on it)
    • Obviously we are not going to let this piece take the wheel of decision-making too much, but it does need to be considered. One way to accomplish this is to make sure there are at least a couple of songs that are well-known enough that they may have heard it, or are easy to catch onto by someone who is brand new to it.
  • The number of new songs
    • In that same vein, a good general rule of thumb is to not introduce more than one or two new songs per week, and the same goes for Easter. There are few things that will bum churchgoers out more than arriving Easter Sunday only to do a bunch of songs they’ve never heard before. So make sure you’ve started introducing any newer songs you want to incorporate well before that weekend and maybe just save that one zinger for the actual celebration.
  • The level of difficulty
    • Unless you’re hiring in a bunch of professionals, the skill level of your band is going to be the same on Easter weekend as it is the rest of the year. So don’t pick a bunch of songs they aren’t going to be able to pull off, simply because they’re “perfect for Easter Sunday”. If there’s a song that you just HAVE to do and it’s more challenging than your normal roster, consider introducing it to your band months in advance and working it until they’ve got it, or create an arrangement of it that is less complex.

There are plenty of other things to take into consideration as you prepare for this special weekend in the life of the Church, but these are some of the more common ones. We’d love to hear other things that influence your process in the comments.

Let’s talk actual songs now. For those of you who don’t have a lot of time on your hands to research, we’ve compiled a handful of lists that might help get your creative juices flowing with regard to the right set list for your church body’s Easter services. These lists are by no means exhaustive and we’re 100% confident there are songs out there that we’ve missed. Again, we’d love for you to put more ideas in the comments. Our hope and prayer is that, as Easter quickly approaches, God would put the songs on your hearts that will stir and move His people to life-changing encounters with His Presence, and that your own hearts would be filled to overflowing as you prepare to lead the Church. 

Top 10 Brand New Songs
(These are all songs that have been released since last Easter)

  1. Worthy Of Your Name – Passion https://youtu.be/fcedMbopknM
  2. The Cross Has The Final Word – Cody Carnes https://youtu.be/n0TAnT6Leec
  3. Oh The Power – Kari Jobe https://youtu.be/u3Dtnaie4KY
  4. What A Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship https://youtu.be/r5L6QlAH3L4
  5. Lion and the Lamb – Bethel Music https://youtu.be/C9ujBoud26k
  6. Exalted Over All – Vertical Church Band https://youtu.be/HqnRj1N4blA
  7. God Most High – All About Worship https://youtu.be/6oZzZIaLrEA
  8. This Is My Inheritance – All Sons and Daughters https://youtu.be/yBH8FLgtzHs
  9. Miracles – Jesus Culture https://youtu.be/S-auXYdMSGM
  10. Your Love Awakens Me – Phil Wickham https://youtu.be/VIMh6lS6VjE 

Top 20 Fairly Recent Songs
(These are all songs that were released between Easters of 2012 and 2016)

  1. Resurrecting – Elevation Worship
  2. Forever – Kari Jobe
  3. Praise The King – Corey Voss
  4. O Praise (The Only One) – Michael Farren
  5. My Victory – David Crowder
  6. Salvation’s Tide – Passion
  7. Great Are You Lord – All Sons and Daughters
  8. The Wondrous Cross – Christy Nockels
  9. This I Believe (The Creed) – Hillsong Worship
  10. Break Every Chain – Jesus Culture
  11. Lamb of God – Vertical Church Band
  12. Because He Lives (Amen) – Matt Maher
  13. Hallelujah For The Cross – Newsboys
  14. How Can It Be – Lauren Daigle
  15. Grace To Grace – Hillsong Worship
  16. Jesus, Only Jesus – Matt Redman
  17. No Longer Slaves – Bethel Music
  18. Come As You Are – David Crowder
  19. For The Cross – Bethel Music
  20. O Come To The Altar – Elevation Worship

Top 10 Older Songs
(These are all songs released between 2000 and 2011)

  1. Revelation Song – Gateway Worship
  2. Your Great Name – Natalie Grant
  3. Forever Reign – Hillsong
  4. Mighty To Save – Hillsong
  5. Worthy Is The Lamb – Hillsong
  6. Hosanna – Paul Baloche
  7. Hosanna (King Of Glory ) – Hillsong United
  8. Happy Day – Tim Hughes
  9. How Great Is Our God – Chris Tomlin
  10. One Thing Remains – Bethel 

Top 10 Hymns
(These are all songs that are rebooted hymns or newer songs that have that hymn-like feel, regardless of age)

  1. Jesus Paid It All – Passion
  2. Turn Your Eyes (Jesus Won) – 121 Community Church
  3. The Wonderful Cross – Chris Tomlin
  4. All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name – Paul Baloche
  5. Cornerstone – Hillsong
  6. Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) – Chris Tomlin
  7. How Marvelous (I Stand Amazed) – Passion
  8. How Deep The Father’s Love For Us – Stuart Townend
  9. In Christ Alone – Stuart Townend
  10. Crown Him (Majesty) – Chris Tomlin w/Kari Jobe

* Note that the content of these lists are in no particular order and are merely suggestions based on research done through a variety of music resources, online surveys, chart rankings, and probably a pinch of personal preferences.

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Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell is a wife, mom, and worship leader. While her first love is leading others in authentic times of worship, one of her greatest passions is developing and equipping the next generation of worship leaders. She is the Director of Operations for songwriter/producer/artist, Michael Farren, and recently joined the Here Be Lions team.