Sunday, January 24, 2016

Onward Christian Soldiers


Onward Christian Soldiers

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 banner go!


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


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


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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.


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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 thro' countless ages men and angels sing.


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


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 Sabine Baring-Gould is the author of this well-known hymn. He was an Anglican curate in the parish at Horbury Bridge in Yorkshire, England, in 1864. Time had come for the annual Whitmonday procession of Sunday school children from one village to the next, and he despaired of keeping the little children in line as they tramped over the countryside. (Whitmonday is the Monday following Pentecost.) It occurred to him that a marching tune would help keep the children in step and headed in the same direction, both physically and spiritually. Sabine reviewed his hymn texts, but couldn't find anything he felt appropriate. 

Undaunted, he composed the verses of "Onward Christian Soldiers". In his own account of the writing this hymn, Baring has said: "It was written in a very simple fashion, without thought of publication. It was written in great haste, and I am afraid that some of the rhymes are faulty. I am certain that nothing has surprised me more than its popularity."

Although this song is the one piece of writing for which Sabine Baring-Gould is more remembered for, it's interesting to note that he was one of the most gifted men-of-letters of the Victorian Era. He wrote eighty five books on religion, travel, folklore, mythology, history, fiction, biography, and theology during his lifetime.

One of his best known publications is his fifteen-volume Lives of the Saints. In the British Museum's literary catalogue there are more titles by Baring-Gould than by any other writer of his time. When "Onward Christian Soldiers" was first performed by the children of his Sunday school, it was sung to a melody by Haydn. The hymn didn't gain great popularity, however, until a second melody was composed for it by Arthur Seymour Sullivan, a man well-known for the operettas he wrote.

When Sabine Baring-Gould died at 92 years of age, he left the literary world greatly enriched by his numerous contributions and Christian music. He has given believers a cadence for commitment and a challenge to march on as soldiers for Christ. 

 
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When I think of "Onward Christian Soldiers" I think of Philippians 3:14, which says "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

I want to thank the reader that commented asking if I would write about this song. I learned some interesting facts about the author I didn't know before.
Hope you all have a blessed Lord's day.

In the unbreakable and glorious bonds of Calvary,
Ashley

9 comments:

  1. Truly beautiful, Ashley! <3 I love that song.
    God bless,
    Paige

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  2. Such a lovely post. Just found your site after you commented on mine. I really like what I see and have subscribed. Hugs.

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  3. Ashley, thank you for sharing this. I have fond memories of singing this song! Now that the roads are better, I'm hoping to get your package mailed tomorrow.

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  4. What an encouragement this was to me tonight! I have been so burdened over some trials we are facing, and it was such a blessing to read the precious words of this old, beloved hymn, and also to hear the background about the author. What a blessing you are, dear Ashley, to share these posts about the old hymns! I have sung this song many times, but I don't know that I have ever really, really paid attention to the profoundness of the words. The part that jumped out at me most tonight were these words, "Hell's foundations quiver at the shout of praise; Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise!" Amen, and amen!

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  5. I did not know the history of this beloved song! Thank you for sharing both the hymn and its history... I will always think of little children marching to this song now when I hear it! :)

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  6. Love your blog.:-)
    I used to love this hymn but I haven't heard it in a long time, thank you for posting!

    Chattychickie.blogspot.com

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  7. Ashley,
    What an inspiring song and amazing story! Even though Sabine Baring-Gould never imagined that this song would ever be published, and certainly never thought it would be popular, I am sure it has encouraged many a weary soldier of the Lord! Thanks so much for sharing this! God Bless, and keep up the good work! :)
    Zachary

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  8. Thank you soo much for publishing this song. That is really neat. Would you mind if I told you about some other things I would like to learn about? Just let me know!! Thanks
    A fellow child of the King, S.L.

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    1. My pleasure! Sure. If you have a specific hymn in mind you would like to learn about, feel free to tell me. :)

      In Christ alone,
      Ashley

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