Now the Green Blade Riseth

Posted By Derek Nance on Mar 30, 2013 |


“Now the Green Blade Riseth” is a popular Easter hymn in the handbell world, and much of its popularity is due to Kevin McChesney’s brilliant arrangement.  In fact, I would place a bet that most bell ringers reading this post have performed the piece at some time or another.  Not only does the piece have a beautiful melody, but the lyrics of the hymn create a lovely poem

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.

The group the Bryce and I ring with  have rung McChesney’s arrangement for many years.  We use to keep the piece to a gentle, controlled tempo, until one year when we were performing a Christmas concert with the Reno Pops Orchestra.  They wanted to do a piece with bells and orchestra, so we recommended playing the expanded version of McChesney’s piece because it works great for Christmas and Easter.  We got to the dress rehearsal before the concert and the conductor took the piece at a million miles an hour, way faster than we had ever performed it.  We held on just barely at that rehearsal, but after the initial shock had worn off we actually enjoyed playing the piece at that tempo.  Here is a video of us performing “Now the Green Blade Riseth” last spring at the new, super fast tempo.

There are several other great groups online that can play the piece as fast as us, like this video from the Tintabulists.  Anyone know of other groups that play it faster?

Also, if you love this piece, check out the earlier posts we did with a techno remix of McChesney’s arrangement.  Who says handbells can’t be cool?

Happy Easter everyone!

Lyrics for “Now the Green Blade Riseth” from cyberhymnal.org.

Cover image from promanex on Flickr