186

Low in the Grave He Lay

Full Text

1 Low in the grave he lay —
Jesus, my Savior;
waiting the coming day —
Jesus, my Lord.

Refrain:
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]

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Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

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." 
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Easter hymns accomplish three functions: they recount the Easter narrative, proclaim our Easter hope, and celebrate our joy at Christ’s resurrection. This hymn is built on the professions of Easter truths that are expressed primarily in Heidelberg Catechism. Note especially the following:
  • Lord’s Day 17, Question and Answer 45 declares that Christ’s resurrection makes us share in Christ’s righteousness, raises us to a new life by his power, and is a sure pledge to us of our resurrection.
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 57 comforts us to know that not only our soul but “also my very flesh will be raised by the power of God, reunited with my soul, and made like Christ’s glorious body.”
  • Lord’s Day 22, Question and Answer 58 says that it may be a comfort to know that while experiencing the beginning of eternal joy now, “after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God forever.”
In addition, Our Song of Hope, stanza 5 professes: “On the day of the resurrection, the tomb was empty; His disciples saw Him; death was defeated; new life had come. God’s purpose for the world was sealed.”
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Low in the Grave He Lay

Call to Worship

Christ is risen from the dead. Alleluia!
We know that since Christ was raised from the dead,
he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all;
but the life he lives, he lives to God.
—based on Romans 6:9-10, NIV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

The Lord who calls us to worship today is the same Jesus
who refused the temptation to worship the evil one.
Rather than receive the glorious kingdoms of this world,
he endured the shame of the cross,
and today is Lord of lords and King of kings.
Now are gathered in him
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
glory and power.
With the saints of all ages we say,
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom
and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
—based on Colossians 2:3; Revelation 5:12, NIV
[Reformed Worship 27:40]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Words of Praise

In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.
We trust in Jesus Christ,
fully human, fully God.
Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:
preaching good news to the poor
and release to the captives,
forgiving sinners,
and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.
Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,
Jesus was crucified,
suffering the depths of human pain
and giving his life for the sins of the world.
God raised Jesus from the dead,
vindicating his sinless life,
breaking the power of sin and evil,
delivering us from death to life eternal.
With believers in every time and place,
we rejoice that nothing in life or in death
can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
—from A Brief Statement of Faith
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Eternal and ever-blessed God,
Lord of heaven and earth:
We praise your glorious majesty.
We see your wisdom in all your works;
your grace and truth are revealed in Jesus Christ, your Son;
your power and presence are given to us through your Holy Spirit;
we adore your holy name, O blessed Trinity,
forever and ever. Amen.
[BCW-1946, p 26, alt., PD]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Assurance

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
—1 Corinthians 15:54-57, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have died.
For since death came through a human being,
the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;
for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
—1 Corinthians 15:20-22, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

This office the Lord Jesus most willingly undertook,
and in order to discharge its obligations
he was born under the law and perfectly fulfilled it.
He endured most grievous torments in his soul
and most painful sufferings in his body;
he was crucified, died, and was buried;
he remained under the power of death,
yet his body did not undergo decay;
and he arose from the dead on the third day
with the same body in which he had suffered.
In this body he ascended into heaven,
where he sits at the right hand of his Father, making intercession,
and he shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the age.
The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself—
which he through the eternal Spirit once offered up to God—
has fully satisfied the justice of his Father.
He purchased not only reconciliation
but also an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven
for all whom the Father has given to him.
—from Westminster Confession (MESV), Chap. VIII, Sec. 4-5
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
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Low in the Grave He Lay

Tune Information

Name
CHRIST AROSE
Key
B♭ Major
Meter
6.5.6.4 refrain 7.9.11.11.6.7

Recordings

186

Low in the Grave He Lay

Hymn Story/Background

Robert S. Lowry 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.
 
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).
 
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.
— Bert Polman

Author and Composer Information

Robert S. Lowry (b. Philadelphia, PA, 1826; d. Plainfield, NJ, 1899) valued his preaching ministry much more than his writing of hymns, but 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 Jewels (1869), Hymn Service (1871-1873), Welcome Tidings (1877), Gospel Hymn and Tune Book (1879), and Glad Refrain (1886).
— Bert Polman
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