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!

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

Author: Robert Lowry

Robert Lowry was born in Philadelphia, March 12, 1826. His fondness for music was exhibited in his earliest years. As a child he amused himself with the various musical instruments that came into his hands. At the age of seventeen he joined the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, and soon became an active worker in the Sunday-school as teacher and chorister. At the age of twenty-two he gave himself to the work of the ministry, and entered upon a course of study at the University of Lewisburg, Pa. At the age of twenty-eight he was graduated with the highest honors of his class. In the same year of his graduation, he entered upon the work of the ministry. He served as pastor at AVest Chester, Pa., 1851-1858; in New York City, 1859-1861;… Go to person page >


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



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…

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