396. Low in the Grave Christ Lay

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1 Low in the grave Christ 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

Text Information
First Line: Low, in the grave Christ lay
Title: Low in the Grave Christ Lay
Author: Robery Lowry (1874, alt.)
Refrain First Line: Up from the grave he arose
Meter: 65 64 with refrain
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ;
Topic: Songs for Children: Hymns; Easter; Freedom
Tune Information
Composer: Robert Lowry (1874, alt.)
Meter: 65 64 with refrain
Key: B♭ Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 27:59-60
st. 2 = Matt. 27:66
st. 3 = Acts 2:24
ref. = Matt. 28:2-10

Robert S. Lowry (b. Philadelphia, PA, 1826; d. Plainfield, NJ, 1899) composed both text and tune of this Easter gospel hymn in 1874 while he was pastor of the First Baptist Church, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The hymn was published in Brightest and Best (1875), a church school songbook edited by Lowry and William Doane (PHH 473).

The meditative stanzas of this testimony hymn contrast with its dramatic refrain–"He arose!" That refrain recalls for us the angel's announcement: "He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24:6a). Originally the first line read, "Low in the grave He lay."

Although Lowry valued his preaching ministry much more than his writing of hymns, he attained a lasting name in the gospel music tradition. Educated at Bucknell University, he returned there to become a professor of rhetoric from 1869-1875. He was also a pastor at Baptist churches in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. Known nationally as the editor of numerous Sunday school song collections for publishers Biglow and Maine in New York, Lowry also collaborated with William H. Doane to produce gospel hymnals and Sunday school songbooks such as Bright Jewel (1869), Hymn Service (1871-1873), Welcome Tidings (1877), Gospel Hymn and Tune Book (1879), and Glad Refrain (1886).

Liturgical Use
Easter morning; for sunrise services play in the B-flat setting; for Easter morning worship at the usual hour look for a setting in C major (see 1959 Psalter Hymnal) Easter mornings can bear that extra lift!

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The gospel tune CHRIST AROSE captures well the drama of Christ's resurrection with the ascending ("rocket") figures in the refrain. Undoubtedly, the refrain line has greatly enhanced this hymn's popularity. Sing in harmony with crisp rhythms and marcato accompaniment on the refrain. After the final stanza hold back the tempo on the last line of the refrain. Finish with "Christ arose" in three crashing chords with full organ. Sing the stanzas at a subdued pace, the refrain a bit faster.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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