Saturday, October 13, 2007

Onward, Christian Soldiers

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 2:3

I could tell I wasn't feeling very inspired today, so I decided I would choose for my Saturday hymn whichever one happened to be today's devotional in my Kenneth Osbeck book. This is such a helpful devotional for anyone who likes hymns as much as I do. It's entitled Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories for Personal Devotions. It's a nice way to go through the year--reading the stories about the authors and the writing of many of our familiar hymns. I've gone through it a couple of times and now I use it as a reference.

So, you already know the title of the hymn and you can see I can't seem to get away from this soldier/warfare theme. That post I made on "Am I a Soldier of the Cross?" back in September probably impacted me more than it did anyone else who may have read it. I guess it was mostly because of the recent killings of the two missionaries I knew, but also because of what I keep reading in the news and at the Persecution Blog. It would be much easier if we didn't know about what's going on with Christians around the world, but I think our Lord doesn't want us to "bury our heads in the sand," as my husband often says about things.

This hymnwriter is not particularly well known, but what an offering he has made to the Church! His name was Sabine Baring-Gould, a Church of England minister. Here is his account of the writing of this hymn:

"It was written in a very simple fashion, without thought of publication. Whitmonday is a great day for school festivals in Yorkshire, and one Whitmonday it was arranged that our school should join forces with that of a neighboring village. I wanted the children to sing while marching from one village to the other, but couldn't think of anything quite suitable, so I sat up at night resolved to write something myself. "Onward, Christian Soldiers" was the result. It was written in great haste, likely in less than 15 minutes."

It was written for children! You know how much I love hymns which were written for the young, don't you? Have you ever tried singing these familiar words while marching around your house wih your little ones in the rear, perhaps even taking turns as leader? The front runner can wave the Christian flag as the marchers weave through the rooms. Look at what wonderful truths their young minds will be assimilating as they go! They'll be learning that Christ is the real leader against a real foe, that there is a real battle going on, and that the Church is a mighty army. Do you want your children to know these things? Well, let this song help you to teach them!

Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before:
Christ the royal Master
Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
See, his banners go.

The rest of the lyrics and the tune are here.


Sara said...

Hello! Actually, I started the post in September, but never finished it (kinda forgot about it). Do you know if it's possible to change the date on an already saved post? I really wrote the majority of it today. Also, I just realized I put your full last name on my blog- whoops! I changed that right away- sorry about that!
I love this hymn too. I remember always listening to it as a child and singing along. :) See you tomorrow!

Maxine said...

Sara, you can change it. I'll write you at your place and that's okay about the last name--thanks for changing it. Funny,I went to your blog to tell you that it was due time you posted, and there it was. But I was thrown off by the date.
Most children do love this hymn and you can understand why. It was written especially for them!

Sara said...

Thanks! I'm finally getting back into the whole "blogging" thing. I forgot how much much fun it is.

Beverly said...

I like your idea of marching around the house singing this song!

Beka said...

Such a magnificent hymn!
And when I read your idea about marching around the house, little ones in tow, singing this hymn... I got chills. Such a wonderful idea.


You picked a song that I really really love. Thank you for sharing it today of all days. connie from Texas