An extra lift from this victorious Easter hymn
The American author and composer Robert Lowry created this interestingly-textured Easter song ”Christ Arose”(1874). Lowry was not only a musician, but he was also a Baptist pastor in Pennsylvania and a literature professor at Bucknell University. He published “Christ Arose” in Brightest and Best (1875), a collaborative work between him and William Doane intended as a church school songbook. Their collaboration produced five more songbooks. His ministry service came first, but Lowry became well-known in creating gospel music. He was a gifted orator when he spoke to the congregation, he could paint with words and brought inspiration.
The Biglow Publishing handpicked Lowry to be its music editor where he flourished, publishing 20 Sunday songbooks that sold over a million copies in the US and the UK. One time around Easter, Lowry was seated beside the organ in his home reflecting on the resurrection. Quite spontaneously, the words and the music of “Christ Arose” came forth.
The melody mirrors the transition from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, that’s describing the tune in a nutshell. It begins with somber dirge-like stanzas in block chords. The dirge sound is that which plods in a crisp step-wise fashion, the singing subdued and then shifts to some angelic trumpeting blast announcing the refrain. The refrain signals the outpouring of praise and adoration to the resurrected Christ and our redemption from the shackles of sin. The energy surges and it’s played quicker at this point and the Marcato (stately, with emphasis) accompaniment plays just like the vocals which have increased in volume. This is the thing that essentially sets Lowry’s Easter hymn from the rest. There’s a shift back to the dirge after the refrain, but when the refrain comes around again, there’s no holding back and the volume increases putting everyone in a celebratory state.