Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924

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

The Christian life is often compared in Scripture to warfare--the struggle of sin against righteousness and of the flesh versus the spirit. Each follower of Christ is called to be a "good" soldier. This involves motivation, training, discipline, good equipment, and endurance.

This hymn text reminds us that the Church, the "called out" body of believers from every age, race, and culture, is to be an aggressive, unified body. It must always be moving forward in its mission of spreading the Gospel. We cannot allow ourselves to become stagnant and contented with the status quo.

[2003 - NOTE: As the wife of an active duty Navy man, another facet of this lesson comes to mind. My husband is a Navy recruiter for shore duty. Hmmm.... Made me think. Who is our enemy we are fighting in this war for the LORD? Contrary to what is going on in the world today with Muslims warring against Jews and Christians, the "enemy" is the world, the flesh, and Satan. We are to be recruiting other souls, not fighting against them! Recruit them...let them know the BLESSINGS of serving in the LORD's army! Show them from Scripture why He is the chosen authority in your life, that you serve God out of a heart of love. We mustn't love the world--the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life--but we must have a love for the lost that compels us to go into the highways and hedges seeking to bring them to the Father's House...to recruit them!]

The author of this text, Sabine Baring-Gould, a Church of England minister, has left this account regarding the writing of this hymn:

It was written in a very simple fashion, without thought of publication. Whit-Monday is a great day for school festivals in Yorkshire, and one Whit-Monday 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.

Yet these words that were written hurriedly for marching children became the text for a hymn that God ordained to inspire lives around the world, challenging Christians with their responsibility to be aggressive in advancing His cause both individually and with other members of the "Church of God".

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!

At the sign of triumph Satanís host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hellís foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believŤd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never 'gainst that church prevail;
We have Christís own promise, and that cannot fail.

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

*For Today*: I Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10-18; I Timothy 6:11 & 12

Consider how the outreach ministry of your local church could be advanced more effectively in the community.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Return to Hymn Devotionals Index

Caleb's Country Corner *_*

The Christian Counter