As I grow older and the world around me changes, I have noticed that many churches have changed their style of music worship. I grew up singing the old hymns and using hymnals, however these have both been put to the side and a new style of music has become the norm. I am not saying this is wrong and my children and grandchildren love the new style.
I remember as a youth we were taught the song “Onward Christian Soldiers” but it has been a long time since I heard it sung in church. As I was doing research about the song I read that one author said we have become a society of church singing melodies with no harmony. We are catering to the fast pace of the world and altering the church’s message to fit the music of a sinful nation.
“Onward Christian Soldiers” has been criticized as song promoting war and fighting by some even prompting a professor of Theology at a leading University to call it “absurd”. The song was written as a marching tune for children in 1865 by Sabine Baring-Gould, a curate to Horbury St. Peter’s Church in England. The music was composed by Thomas Sullivan in 1871 and this is the music and words that appear in our hymnals today. The hymn’s theme is taken from 2 Timothy 2:3: “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
This song has a great message. To me it doesn’t promote war or violence but reminds us that Jesus guides us in our footsteps and will take care of us if we follow Him. Read the first verse of this great song and decide for yourself:
“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!”
The other verses of the song have a very strong message and give us hope and clarity of who our Savior is and what He will do for us. The song used to be so popular and strong that Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt at their meeting in August of 1941 to agree to the Atlantic Charter chose this song to be sung at the church service. This song was also sung at the funeral of Dwight D. Eisenhower at the National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. in March of 1969. This song has also been associated with protest against the established order, particularly in the case of the civil rights movement.
This song has been used in several films and appeared in several episodes of TV series. Various opinions have been formed about the song however I firmly believe it to be a tremendous Christian song of how we can face the troubles and downfalls of our nation.
The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11; “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
I must say that in the church I attend, our minister of music does a good job of mixing the old and new songs. I have to say that many churches my wife and I attend when traveling have the bands, the fast music, and the never-ending chants. These churches are packed with the younger generation with a few gray-haired people mixed in. Most have good sermons that are about Jesus and His Saving Grace however the public invitations to accept Jesus are growing fewer and fewer.
It is my hope that you who are reading this knows Jesus as your personal Savior and will follow Him against the evils of the world.
Sunday – Ephesians 6:10-20
Monday – Joshua 1:1-9
Tuesday – Mark 8:31-33
Wednesday – Psalm 17:3-9
Thursday – 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
Friday – 2 Chronicles 20:14-15
Saturday – 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20