Bells toll to start. It’s followed by the crescendo of a chorus breaking out into a hosanna chant to proclaim the coming of Jesus Christ. As the rest of Rob Gardner’s landmark oratorio “Lamb of God” follows, an orchestra, chorus and narrator guide the audience through the darkest moments of Jesus’ life.

But it’s ever with the reminder that there’s “also a ray of hope,” as Gardner said in a release.

Gardner’s oratorio, first written in 2009 after he had an epiphany, has become a mainstay in some Latter-day Saints’ celebration of Easter. For Steven Christiansen, performing as Peter in a Millcreek stake’s performance of “Lamb of God” was a moving experience.

Christiansen, a Ph.D. student at BYU, said practices and performances interrupted the franticness of his day to day life. He typically doesn’t have time to spare, but his participation enhanced his Easter experience and caused him to slow down. “It forced me to sit down and ponder a lot more about the last portion of Christ’s ministry.”

Cast as Peter, Christiansen put himself in Peter’s shoes and engaged in “spiritual introspection as to when or how I valued fear over faith and how I could do better.” It wasn’t just Christiansen that benefited from the performance. The audience did too.

In fact, Christiansen told the Deseret News that seeing everybody’s response to the performance was the most spiritually impactful part of his experience. Whether it was glancing at his teary-eyed adviser in the audience or receiving a bear hug from a fellow ward member, audience members expressed gratitude and sometimes came back again to other performances.

“Lamb of God” and other Easter musical tributes are just one of the ways Latter-day Saints celebrate the day where Christ rose from the dead thousands of years ago. It’s common for members of the Church of Jesus Christ to read about the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in the Book of Mormon and New Testament during the holiday time.

For Latter-day Saints, Easter is the ultimate sacred celebration of life and hope. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in an April 2015 general conference talk, “Because of the sacrifice of our beloved Redeemer, death has no sting, the grave has no victory, Satan has no lasting power, and we are ‘begotten ... again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.’”

“I observe a growing effort among Latter-day Saints toward a more Christ-centered Easter,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said in an April 2023 general conference talk. “This includes a greater and more thoughtful recognition of Palm Sunday and Good Friday as practiced by some of our Christian cousins. We might also adopt appropriate Christ-centered Easter traditions found in the cultures and practices of countries worldwide.”

During Easter time, Christians around the globe pay particular attention to the portions of the gospels that tell the story of Jesus’ last days. They gather in special services to worship God.

The case for setting up a ‘Christ room’ in your home
How the Church of Jesus Christ’s history with Holy Week has changed in recent years

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released additional resources for members to draw on as they commemorate Holy Week and Easter. Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ have also released messages during the Easter season. As Deseret News reporter Tad Walch observed, the events around Easter have always been sacred and vital to Latter-day Saints. But what’s changed is the incorporation of terms other Christians use like Palm Sunday and Holy Week.

Holy Week has become part of the Easter worship for some Latter-day Saints. Cecelia Proffit and Rachel Jardine curated a collection of hymns, poems, activity ideas, scriptures and art for Wayfare Magazine for each day of Holy Week from Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and Easter Sunday, the day of Resurrection.

Drawing on scriptures from the Bible and the Book of Mormon as well as hymns, poems and art from several different faith traditions, Proffit and Jardine encourage readers to reflect on what Jesus went through during the last days of his mortal ministry.

In an interview with the Deseret News, Jardine said she thinks when it comes to celebrating Easter, it’s important for people to find what’s most applicable to them.

Jardine, who has young kids, said when she’s picking activities to do during Easter, she’s trying to make it applicable for the whole family so everyone can come together.

It’s been rewarding for Jardine to see her family grow together and watch her kids take personal interest in the holiday. An activity Jardine said the family enjoys doing together is going on a nature walk.

“We will do something like pick up a rock and talk about how our testimony of Jesus can be a rock in our lives, or if we’re going for a hike, talking about the path that we’re walking on, Jesus is the way,” Jardine said.

As Jardine has celebrated Holy Week and Easter this year, she’s turned to music, poetry, art and scriptures.

“I think what has stood out to me a lot this year is how much Holy Week has the potential to help me to get to know Jesus Christ better.”