Sunday, April 20, 2014

Portals Into God's Presence: Low In the Grave He Lay

One of the hymns that is imprinted in my heart and on my tongue is "Low In the Grave He Lay." Although I am not a very good singer, I was a member of the youth choir at the Bethesda Baptist Church during my teenage years. One year, under the direction of Alan McBride, we prepared to sing "Low in the Grave He Lay" for Easter Sunday. At that point in my life I cannot assuredly say that I had surrendered my life to Christ, but still the words of that chorus simultaneously pierced and encouraged my soul. Some twenty years later, I am still encouraged by the words to this hymn. The resurrection of Christ—His victory over sin, death, and the grave—are the hope and promise to which I cling when these earthly days are rough. When I have grave-like days, I remember that the grave does not have the final say; The tomb has been opened and Christ is risen! His victory is my victory, and for that I am eternally grateful.

But this hymn not only points to the promise of new possibilities in Christ, this hymn is one of the reasons why I want my daughter to know the songs of Zion. It is why I sing hymns sweetly in her ear as she dozes off to sleep each night. It is why my heart is warmed when she, in her unique two-year old way, sings "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there is something about that name..." You see, when I had turned my back on the church and on God, the lyrics to the songs of Zion had already been etched into my heart, mind, soul, and tongue. And in part of my repentance—my turning back to God—the Holy Spirit would bring these songs back to my remembrance (John 14:26). In all honesty, in the early stages of my faith formation I was shaped more by the great hymns of the church than by the Bible itself. As I grew in Christ, I came to know the Word that inspired the hymn writers to pen such powerful songs. By sharing the songs of Zion with Big Girl, and Baby Girl when she arrives, I am participating with God in the shaping of their faith.

"Low in the Grave He Lay" is a simple song about the profound mysteries of God. It is a song of triumph, not only for Christ, but for those who believe in His suffering, death, and resurrection. As Robert Lowry wrote in the refrain, "He lives forever with His saints to reign." On this Easter Sunday, my prayer is that you would walk victoriously in resurrection power on this day, and every day of your lives.
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 foesHe 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 his prey—
  Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away—
  Jesus my Lord!
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