1 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! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
2 Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord! [Refrain]
3 Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord! [Refrain]
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
|First Line:||Low in the grave he lay, Jesus, my Savior|
|Title:||Low in the Grave He Lay|
|Author:||Robert Lowry (1874)|
|Meter:||11.10 with refrain|
|Refrain First Line:||Up from the grave He arose|
This jubilant Easter text was written in 1874 by Robert Lowry, and was published in a Sunday school songbook edited by Lowry and William Doane in 1875, Brightest and Best. The hymn was used by Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey in their revivals in Great Britain, and was widely popular in America as well.
This hymn has multiple titles: “Christ Arose,” “Low in the Grave He Lay,” and “Up from the Grave He Arose.” The themes of the stanzas and the refrain contrast each other. The stanzas focus on Jesus in the tomb. The refrain exultantly celebrates that Jesus is now risen and victorious over His evil enemies.
Robert Lowry wrote this tune in 1874 for his text, hence the name CHRIST AROSE. The music for the stanzas is subdued, with a narrow melodic range, and simple rhythm. The dotted rhythms, wide range, and melodic leaps of the refrain melody provide a strong contrast to the stanzas as in the text. Throughout the refrain, the lower voices echo back the words, “He arose!” in a resounding antiphon. In the first edition, the refrain was marked “Faster,” a performance practice that has become standard. Sometimes, a ritardando is marked in the penultimate measure, which allows an easy return to the tempo of the stanzas, as well as an opportunity to spend a little more time on the triumphant words, “Hallelujah! Christ arose!”
This hymn would make an excellent choice for an opening hymn on Easter Sunday, especially for a sunrise service. An energetic handbell arrangement, such as “Up from the Grave He Arose” is one way to begin the celebration. A brass trio such as “Christ Arose” is another idea to give a touch of rousing jubilation to the opening of an Easter service. For a variation on the usual practice of opening with the subdued mood of the stanzas, try singing the refrain first as a burst of joy in the celebration the church has been eagerly anticipating all through Lent and especially Holy Week. Then sing the stanzas to rehearse what has led up to this moment. The piano arrangement of CHRIST AROSE that is part of the collection “What Wondrous Love!” demonstrates how to quietly open the hymn.
The hymn would also work well in medley with other Easter hymns. “Raise Your Joys and Triumphs High” is a handbell medley of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “Up from the Grave He Arose,” and “All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name.” A bright musical interlude between the hymns maintains the overall mood and provides a sense of connection between the various tunes.
Tiffany Shomsky, Hymnary.org