Lowry was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 12, 1826.
He wrote a number of hymns with members of his congregations. At the Hanson Place Baptist Church he wrote songs with Annie Hawks, and he established a similar partnership with Fanny J. Crosby at Sixth Avenue Bible Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York.
Church. When the Park Avenue Church agreed to merge with the First Baptist church, Pastor Lowry agreed to resign in order to ensure the success of the merger. The merged church still exists as the First-Park Baptist Church in Plainfield, New Jersey.
Lowry was married with three sons and died in Plainfield, New Jersey on 23 November 1899. He is interred in Hillside Cemetery.
He is most remembered as a composer of gospel music and a hymn writer, and also worked as a music editor at the Biglow & Main Publishing Company. He was responsible for around 500 compositions, including "Nothing But the Blood," "Christ Arose" ("Low in the Grave He Lay") (words and music)," "Follow On (with William O. Cushing)," "Shall We Gather At The River?," and "How Can I Keep From Singing?" He also wrote the music and refrain for "Marching to Zion" (words by Isaac Watts).
Despite his success as a hymn writer, it was as a preacher that Lowry would have preferred to be recognised. He once stated: "Music, with me has been a side issue... I would rather preach a gospel sermon to an appreciative audience than write a hymn. I have always looked upon myself as a preacher and felt a sort of depreciation when I began to be known more as a composer." However, it is as a hymn writer that he remains renowned.