Easter Church Service of 1943

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

Last month we explored the Christian roots of Universalism by reviewing a sermon delivered at our Walnut Hills Church in a 1919 Sunday service. To further explore that topic, we might look at an order of service from 1943 and what better worship service to examine than that offered by our church during the Easter season. Reverend Kenneth Hutchinson offered these thoughts on the Easter season.

“Dear Friends: The greatest day in Christian history becomes perhaps more significant for us this year than ever before. We are facing a crisis, not only in the form of an international struggle, but also in a very personal sense. How the present world situation is going to affect our personal living is largely a question we are going to have to decide for ourselves.

“Whether we become bitter and cynical, or imbued with a healthy courage and strength will depend principally upon the kind of associations we seek for ourselves.

“The church, with its heritage of nearly twenty centuries of experience in facing all sorts of problems and emergencies, has much to offer in the way of personal suggestion and help for these perilous days.

“Let us make this Easter Season a time of sharing and of fellowship.”

Those associated with our church had many opportunities during Easter week to experience that sharing and fellowship. On Palm Sunday, a special worship service was offered with a sermon by Reverend Hutchinson entitled “Bear Your Own Burden”. On the evening of April 22, a Maundy Thursday service was conducted with a full communion experience. On Friday, April 23, a Union Good Friday service was offered for all the Christian churches of Walnut Hills. This event started at noon with three separate half-hour services at the Church of the Advent on Kemper Lane. The week-long observance was concluded with Sunday Easter services at our Walnut Hills sanctuary. Below is the order of service for that event.

The celebration of Easter opened with an organ recital: “Resurrection Morn,” by Edward F. Johnston.

The processional hymn saw the choir enter to a standing congregation. It was identified only as hymn #347.

A Call to Worship was followed by the covenant:

We would strive to make LOVE the Doctrine of our church,
The Quest for TRUTH its Sacrament,
And HELP to others its Prayer.
We would strive to dwell together in Peace,
To seek KNOWLEDGE in perfect Freedom,
And to SERVE mankind through Fellowship:
To the end that we may GROW into Harmony with the Divine.
Thus do we now covenant anew, with each other and with our God.

A solo performance of “Angels, Roll the Rock Away,” by Thomas Scott, was offered by Mrs. Daughters.

The opening verse is: “Angels, roll the rock away; death yield up they mighty prey. See, the Savior leaves the tomb, glowing in immortal bloom.”

Next, a responsive reading entitled “The Lord Reigneth” was exchanged by the minister and the congregation.

An In Memoriam duet, “Hosanna,” by Jules Granier, was sung by Mrs. Wilber and Mr. Breeden.

The Easter Reading was then presented to the congregants by Reverend Hutchinson, followed by a pastoral prayer.

The Offertory was collected while “The Guardian Angel,” by Gabriel Pierne, was played by the organist.

The Junior Choir then sang “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” by Lyra Davidica, followed by the dedication of the offering.

“Open the Gates of the Temple” by Phoebe Knapp was then sung by Mr. Coburn.

A service of Christening was offered followed by a quartet rendition of “As It Began to Dawn” by Frederick Harker.

Next followed a scripture reading and the singing of Hymn # 348.

The sermon entitled “The Light Eternal” was offered by Reverend Hutchinson.

The sermon was followed by a moment of quiet meditation and prayer.

Next, a short meditation hymn was sung by the choir and congregation. The words presented in the Order of Service were:

Open my eyes that I may see
Glimpses of Truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key,
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
Ready my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit Divine.

An organ benediction was then offered by organist Kathryn Maish, followed by the Pastoral Benediction.

The organ postlude was Handel’s “Hallelujah”.

The service ended with an exchange of Easter greetings.

This was certainly a lengthy service and one dedicated to the celebration of Easter and its meaning to the Christian faith. In 1943, it was central to the Universalist faith.

Image: Cover of the order of service for Easter Sunday, 1943.
Click for larger image.

Image source: Heritage UU Church archives. Photo by Mike Roberts.

Editor’s Note: Here are links to some of the music mentioned in the article.

“Resurrection Morn,” by Edward F. Johnston Organ.

“Resurrection Morn,” Sung.

“Hosanna!” by Jules Granier

“The Guardian Angel,” by Gabriel Pierne

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” by Lyra Davidica

“Open the Gates of the Temple” by Phoebe Knapp

“Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah