This joyful Easter song was written in 1874 with words and music by Robert Lowry. It was published in 1875 in the collection 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 several 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.
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 chorus melody provide a strong contrast to the stanzas as in the text. In the first edition, the chorus was marked “Faster,” a performance practice that has become standard.
This hymn is always an excellent choice for an opening hymn on Easter Sunday, especially for a sunrise service. The hymn would also work well in a medley with other Easter hymns.
Key: C Major
Mood: somber, then enthusiastic, jubilant
Pedagogy: fingering, dotted eighth-sixteenth, tempo changes