For many, Easter is a time to celebrate with family. To gather, to eat, to laugh, to catch up. We may not be doing that this year, but memories abound. This Easter hymn reminds me of a favourite childhood story. It reminds me of my family, the adventures we had, the bickering, the fun. It reminds me of a time long gone, and of friendships that remain. Each one different, each one special. We are not together. But we share our memories. We have imperfect relationships, but they are yet another treasure whose worth is beyond calculation. Celebrate your family, be it chosen or otherwise, and enjoy the memories that emerge. Happy Easter.
Today is Easter. I suppose it is the most significant day on the liturgical calendar, and I know many will be celebrating it in traditional ways with rousing church services and family gatherings. For those who celebrate in these ways, I wish you a Happy Easter. For those who don’t, I offer you a slightly different Easter experience! The hymn for today comes courtesy of my sister, and if you know her, it will be amusing that she has provided the Easter selection. But, as I’ve been reminded many times, these hymns carry our stories with them and this one is part of my family’s tale.
Imagine yourself on a family car trip. The long drives, the cramped quarters of the station wagon and the endless attempt at finding entertainment for the three kids in the back seat. Imagine that the passengers come from a singing tradition and the kids are just slightly odd. Bingo. You have a recipe for some spectacular singing of Low In The Grave He Rose. Loudly, boisterously and in some kind of harmony; but perhaps not always with the exact words as found in the hymnal. I suspect my sister’s recommendation comes with a similar memory. I’m guessing our parents have blocked it out.
So many of the hymns I’ve been given this year are bringing back memories. Sometimes of experiences; sometimes of people. For me, that is what makes them such treasures. The music and words take us to places we’ve been before. But they can also bring us somewhere new. I suppose Easter is about what is new – new life, rebirth – and fits neatly into our choosing to celebrate it in Spring. This hymn has always seemed a bit cheesy to me; the over the top melodramatics of starting slow and solemn and then bursting forth into a rousing chorus. But maybe that’s the point. Winter is bleak, spring brings new life. Applying this to the Christian understanding of the Easter story is pretty easy – after death comes the resurrection.
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!
I look back on my family car trips with fondness. We saw many new things. We argued and we had fun. We read, we played games, we ignored each other, we fought over the borders found on the car’s seats, and we sang. And we sang, and we sang. Easter reminds me of our singing. Not just in the car, but everywhere. For me, singing is refreshing. It allows my spirit to emerge – renewed. I suppose this can also be part of the Easter story. This experience of finding renewal through the voices we’ve been given. Through the sharing of our experiences. With our families – those we were born into and those we’ve chosen. Hallelujah!