Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
I Corinthians 16:13

This text was written in 1812 by Reginald Heber, an important 19th Century church hymn writer. Heber wrote it in honor of Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

The hymn's first stanza portrays Christ as the leader of a great army going forth to win His kingly crown. The challenge is given: "Who follows in His train?" The response: Those who demonstrate that they can bear the cross patiently here below.

The second stanza reminds us of Stephen's martyrdom. The Scripture account tells us that Stephen saw Jesus "standing on the right hand of God" with Stephen praying for his murderers, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (Acts 7:54-60).

The third stanza refers to the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to "the chosen few" who waited in obedience on that first Pentecost after the Lord's death, burial, and resurrection. The verse then reminds us of the twelve apostles and their martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel. The final stanza is a picture in Heaven of the noble martyrs throughout the ages before God's throne--men, boys, matrons, maids--dressed in robes of white.

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears His cross below,
He follows in His train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in His train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came;
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrantís brandished steel,
The lionís gory mane;
They bowed their heads the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Saviorís throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heavín,
Through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train.

*For Today*: Ephesians 6:10-20; I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 2:3 & 4

Let this musical statement be your response of faith.

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.

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