Updated: Oct 6, 2020
German: Steht auf, steht auf, für Jesus
Norwegian: Til kamp, til kamp for Jesus
Swedish: Stå upp, Stå upp för Jesus
Text: George Duffield (1818-1888) Tune: George James Webb (1803-1887)
1. Stand up, stand up for Jesus Ye soldiers of the cross; Lift high his royal banner, It must not suffer loss: From vict'ry unto vict'ry His army he shall lead, 'til ev'ry foe is vanquished, And Christ is Lord indeed.
2. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, The trumpet call obey; Forth to the mighty conflict In this his glorious day: Ye that are men now serve him Against unnumbered foes; Let courage rise with danger, And strength to strength oppose.
3. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, Stand in his strength alone; The arm of flesh will fail you, Ye dare not trust your own: Put on the gospel armor, Each piece put on with pray'r; Where duty calls, or danger, Be never wanting there.
4. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, The strife will not be long; This day the noise of battle, The next the victor's song: To him that overcometh A crown of life shall be; He with the King of glory Shall reign eternally.
This is as much an anti-slavery song as Battle Hymn of the Republic. The writer of the text, George Duffield, wrote it before the Civil war, in 1858, after the tragic death of his friend, Pastor Dudley A. Tyng. Tyng had come from a long line of Episcopal priests. He followed in his father’s footsteps as rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia. The cause of abolition was growing stronger and stronger. Tyng’s father had been an evangelical priest, but not a vocal opponent of slavery. When Dudley became rector of the church, he began preaching against slavery, especially after the fight over slavery in Kansas as it became more and more heated. His opposition to slavery got him into trouble with his vestry. They advised him it was inappropriate to use the Lord’s day to speak on politics. He did not agree. They asked him to resign but he would not. The dispute went to the bishop who could not convince him to resign. Finally, they built another church, the Church of the Covenant, where he could serve. This did not happen because of a strange accident Tyng suffered.
In his last sermon, Tyng denounced slavery yet once more. He held up his right arm and said "I would rather lose this arm than be silenced." Not long after that, it is said, and this is a bit difficult to prove, he was helping on a farm and his sleeve got caught in a farm machine and his right arm was almost severed from him. Soon, it had to amputated, but the infection could not be stopped. (The line in the hymn about "the arm of flesh" makes me think it is true.) As he was dying, he called out to his friends keeping watch in his final exhortation, “Tell them, Let us stand up for Jesus—let us all stand up in Christ Jesus in prayer—accept in Christ, having no other claims than his righteousness, that Christ may be glorified in us forever.” With that he died as his wife sang "Rock of Ages" to him. His friend, George Duffield having heard these last words wrote this hymn and read it at the funeral.
Knowing the reason for the hymn gives us a new appreciation for it. People have come to eschew the idea of battles for Christians, but the imagery of battle and conflict is written into the entire drama of salvation. War broke out in heaven and Michael cast the devil out; Christ came into the world to fight the serpent, even dying on the cross to defeat him. The Christian life is hand to hand conflict with the evil one and evil. Certainly slavery was a great evil and Tyng stood up against it. Many of us see battles now in our fraught political situation, but may not share the sense of who the enemy is.
My parents toward the end of their lives changed the words of the Lord’s Prayer slightly. Every evening they would pray Deliver us from the evil ONE. Not just evil. They believed that the devil was still roaming about seeking whom he could devour. They needed defenses against him in the last years of sickness and dying. They knew sin was crouching at the door. (Genesis 4:7) Their final battle was with death, the last enemy. My father wept one night as he was trying to remember the benediction to bless mother and me, an old ritual. “I used to be a pastor to many and remembered things. And now this. I can't remember it." The evil one. .
In "A Mighty Fortress," the great battle hymn of the Reformation, Luther concludes that we will win because Christ is fighting our fight. One little word, Jesus, will fell the devil. As this hymn says, “Stand in his strength alone/ The arm of flesh will fail us.” Deliver us from evil, deliver us from the evil one. The battle goes on, but we can live confidently knowing the war has been won.
HYMN INFO Duffield, a Presbyterian minister, gave the handwritten text he had just written to the Sunday School superintendent at his church. It got printed on a handbill for the children to sing. From there it was published in several hymnals without any tune--the way hymns were first printed. George Webb, an English tunesmith, was traveling on a ship to America from his native England. While on board, he wrote a tune for a secular text that Lowell Mason and he would publish in a book of popular songs. Then someone used it for the mission hymn, "The Morning Light is Breaking." William Bradbury paired the tune with the Duffield text. That marriage has endured.
LINKS Choir led by Dr. Terry Morris https://youtu.be/QGf2fTIa0zo
NII Okai/Jamaican version https://youtu.be/i16Ps0bFdnE
Fountainview Academy https://youtu.be/79FT7kJpZ1g
The Metropolitan tabernacle Congregation, London https://youtu.be/tH_WtCKqgmQ