The Mirth of a Memorable Folk Tune Lives on In This Easter Carol
Similar to the effect of Christmas carols, euphoric songs such as “This Joyful Eastertide” lend festivity to Easter. What better way to celebrate the joy of the most important Christian festival than for the congregation to burst into this Easter anthem.
At the heart of “This Joyful Eastertide” is the brimming expression of the joy of Christ’s resurrection. Carols are the specialty of the team of priest and poet George Woodward and Anglican church music composer Charles Wood. Their success as a team produced a total of seven books, excluding books published in their respective names. They had a common advocacy to popularize and to stage a rebirth of what was then considered folk music and apply these important vestiges of antiquity to new English sacred text.
George Woodward penned the carol “This Joyful Eastertide” in 1894. The carol was published for the first time in “Carols for Easter and Ascension” (1894) and then again in “Cowley Carol Book” (1902). The tune was originally the tune of the Vruchten (“De liefde Voortgebracht”) which is a Dutch folk love song from the 17th century. With the lyrics carefully written by Woodward, composer Wood worked to enhance the richness of emotion by means of ”word painting.” This mingling of lyrics and music to communicate poetry and buoyant images can be experienced in the refrain of “This Joyful Eastertide” as its musical sequences ascend. Also, notice the thoughtful “word painting” at the end of stanzas containing multi-notes used for singing a singular syllable. Wood was a master in embellishing choral music as can be experienced in the touching organ accompaniment and emotional harmonization of voices in “This Joyful Eastertide.” The dynamic musical duo also created one of the favorite Christmas carols of all time, “Ding Dong Merrily on High.”