He Arose: Fanfare for Easter is based on Robert Lowry’s “Christ Arose” a hymn which I consider to be an American masterpiece of hymn-as-musical-sermon. If you will pardon the pun, rousing is the word for Lowry’s 1874 hymn tune. The music itself leads us faithfully through the universally spiritual journey of darkness into light, yet Lowry’s lyrics are inextricably bound to the music of the tune and both are immediately identifiable as American in their rhythm and buoyant declamation. I have always loved Lowry’s “Shall we gather at the River” and have worked with the tune several times in both my chamber music and my operas.
In He Arose: Fanfare for Easter, I honor Lowry’s hymn by re-inventing its vigorous shout of celebration at the resurrection. I decided to eliminate the tune of the hymn’s verse and concentrate on the music of the refrain to compose a metaphor for intense anticipation of the yearned for event. The piece is in two sections—introduction to the refrain and refrain. In the spirit of Lowry, I worked to keep my musical language direct and communicative while at the same time organic to the message of the piece. It’s the soul of the music itself that celebrates the resurrection!
— Libby Larsen