Hymn Story

Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

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Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

Dudley Tyng was a young up-and-coming Episcopal priest in Philadelphia—until he started preaching against slavery.  Facing serious opposition in his congregation, he resigned and started the Church of the Covenant.  A talented young man, full of conviction, he soon attracted a large following.

In March, 1858, Tyng sponsored a rally that attracted five thousand men.  They heard him say, “I would rather this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.”  Men responded by the hundreds to the invitation that day.

A week later, Tyng was visiting a farm when a threshing machine caught his sleeve and mangled his arm.  Doctors amputated his arm at the shoulder in an attempt to save his life, but he had sustained such a severe injury and loss of blood that he died a few days later.

On his deathbed, he was heard to offer this challenge to those who had gathered around him.  He said, “Let us all stand up for Jesus.”

Inspired by the dying words of his friend, George Duffield (1818-1888) was inspired to preach a sermon the next Sunday that closed with a poem that he had written.  That poem was “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.” Set to music, his poem soon became a favorite hymn.

“Stand Up for Jesus” has a distinctly military air:

• It refers to believers as Christian soldiers, and pictures Christ leading his followers in a battle against evil forces (v. 1).

• It mentions obeying Christ’s trumpet call (v. 2)—trumpet signals being the way that armies commanded troops in battle in that day and age.

• It encourages putting on Gospel armor, an allusion to Ephesians 6:10ff, where Paul said that the armor of God is the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, footwear of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The last verse holds out a promise of peace, saying that “the strife will not be long.”  Furthermore, it holds out a great promise:

To Him that overcometh,
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.

 This song has lost a good deal of favor among those who disparage militarism.  However, it accurately portrays the Christian life as being a life and death struggle against evil—a battle that we must ask Christ to help us to win.  We would do well to stand up and proclaim that reality.

Scripture quotations from the World English Bible.

Copyright, 2015, Richard Niell Donovan