Easter Sunday brings a certain selection of must-sing hymns, one of which offers quiet verses with a chorus that attempts to rise in a triumphant crescendo. This week’s entry in my series Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youth is “Low in the Grave He Lay,” also known as “He Arose” or “Up from the Grave He Arose,” words and music by Robert Lowry (1826-1899). I recall this one from my youth as well, the boisterous chorus sent forth from the voices of the congregation who felt that Easter Sunday deserved some extra gusto. I always wondered if they were intentionally a little extra low-key on the verses so that the chorus would sound even louder. This hymn is a bit unusual in that the verses are so short compared to the refrain. The hymn always came out of hiding for Easter Sunday and saw very little action the rest of the year, such that it becomes an Easter tradition, like the sunrise service and hot cross buns. There are a few such hymns, but I’m not sure that any of them says “Easter Sunday” quite so clearly as this one.
Low in the Grave He Lay
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!
Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
If that doesn’t do it for you or leaves you wanting more, or if you were hoping for some genuine multimedia, I seem to have developed a bit of a tradition of music posts around Easter. Here’s some less traditional good stuff for reflection & celebration:
- video, Kool and the Gang (yes, really)
- audio, Don Francisco, “He’s Alive!”
- audio, Don Francisco, “Thief: Too Small a Price”
- video, Johnny Cash, “Redemption”
- audio, Mike Koop, “He Walked”
- Bob Dylan, “In the Garden”… no video with that one, so here you go:
Come back tomorrow for another one (a new oldie) in recognition of Easter Monday.
When I was in church this morning I realized how we have lost the tradition of having particular “Easter hymns” like we have “Christmas hymns” or “Christmas songs.” You would think that churches would dig through the annals of church history on this day to find songs like the one you posted above. Resurrection songs just don’t seem as popular as crucifixion songs. I am not sure if that is just because the evangelical church has so utterly accepted the substitutionary atonement view of the cross that they have lost all purpose in the resurrection.
It’s as if the resurrection was a nice ending to a process that already finished on the cross.
Thanks for this wonderful song.
As a kid I always loved it when this hymn came out of hiding. I would belt it out (poor elderly woman in front of me).
I learned this one in an a cappella congregation years ago. The church I attend now brought this out and I was the only person in the congregation singing the bass part, complete with the echoes on “he arose.” And like the commenter ahead of me, I was belting it out. People were looking at me funny.
And heck yes, you sing the verses quieter so the chorus seems to boom!
We sang this at my old church when I was a teenager, and not only during Easter. Now I’m in charge of the music for my present church this Easter Sunday, so I’m going to resurrect this hymn!