“When In Our Music God Is Glorified”
“Up from the Grave He Arose”
Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior, waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes; he arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
“Low in the Grave He Lay,” called “Christ Arose” in many hymnals, was composed in 1874 while Lowry was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Lewisburg, Pa. It first appeared in the collection Brightest and Best (1875) under the title “He is not here, but risen—Luke 24:5.” When it was included in music evangelist Ira D. Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos (1875), the song became very popular in the Moody-Sankey revivals. From that point it appeared in a number of 19th-century British and American hymnals.
Mr. Osbeck records this account of the composition of the gospel song: Following his reflection on the resurrection as recorded in Luke 24:6-8, “. . . Lowry found himself seated at the little pump organ in the parlor of his home, and, in a very spontaneous fashion, there came forth the music and the words, giving expression to the thoughts that had been uppermost in his mind.”
The centerpiece of the song is the textual and musical contrast between the stanzas and the refrain. The dirge-like stanzas in block chords with a melody that plods in a step-wise fashion give way to a rhythmic refrain that surges up like a trumpet blast. Like many gospel songs, the three stanzas basically say the same thing three different ways. Each stanza ends with “Jesus my Lord!”—reminiscent of the early Christian affirmation “Jesus is Lord.” (Romans 10:9-13)
This was a favorite hymn of my childhood. Not only do I recall singing it on Easter Sunday morning at lakeside sunrise services, I also recall crouching low during the stanzas and jumping up suddenly at the beginning of the refrain.
Within the Western 19th-century gospel sound, the music of this song captures perfectly the spirit of the transition from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
Grace and Peace,