570. Soldiers of Christ, Arise

1 Soldiers of Christ, arise
and put your armor on,
strong in the strength that God supplies
through his eternal Son,
strong in the Lord of hosts
and in his mighty power;
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.

2 Stand, then, in his great might,
with all his strength endued,
and take, to arm you for the fight,
the weapons of our God.
To keep your armor bright,
attend with constant care,
still walking in your captain's sight
and keeping watch with prayer.

3 From strength to strength go on,
to wrestle, fight, and pray;
tread all the powers of darkness down
and win the well-fought day,
till, having all things done
and all your conflicts past,
you overcome through Christ alone
and stand complete at last.

Text Information
First Line: Soldiers of Christ, arise
Title: Soldiers of Christ, Arise
Author: Charles Wesley (1749, alt.)
Meter: SMD
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Warfare, Spiritual; Walk with God; Prayer (1 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Edward W. Naylor (1902)
Meter: SMD
Key: G Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Eph. 6: 1 0-11
st. 2 = Eph. 6: 14-17
st. 3 = Eph. 6:12-13, 18

Charles Wesley (PHH 267) wrote this text about the church militant in sixteen long stanzas. With the heading 'The Whole Armour of God. Ephesians 6," it was published in the section entitled "Hymns for Believers" in Charles and John Wesley's Hymns and Sacred Poems (1749). Many later hymnals have included various segments of Wesley's original stanzas. Our present version is derived primarily from the original stanzas 1, 2, and 16.

Paul's exhortations in Ephesians 6:10-18 for Christians to "put on the full armor of God" and to fight against "the powers of this dark world and … the spiritual forces of evil" are clearly the inspiration for the text. Though the ancient imagery of armor may not be current, the battle against evil is real and urgent; the encouragement to "wrestle, fight, and pray" (st. 3) is also as timely in our day as it was in Roman times and in the eighteenth century when Wesley and his fellow Methodists faced strife and trial. A note of hope and triumph appears in the final stanza: the spiritual battle has already been won by Christ. The church militant will ultimately be the church victorious!

Liturgical Use:
With preaching from Ephesians 6; other occasions of worship when Christians must exhort each other to obey God’s call to fight the powers of evil.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Edward W. Naylor (b. Scarborough, Yorkshire, England, 1867; d. Cambridge, England, 1934) composed FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH for this text in 1902 for use at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England. Once a student at Emmanuel, Naylor returned to become organist and lecturer in music history, a position he held until his death more than thirty years later. Named for the opening phrase of the final stanza, the tune was published in The Public School Hymn Book (1919).

Naylor also studied at the Royal College of Music in London, England, then served as organist at St. Michael, Chester Square (1889-1896), and briefly at St. Mary, Kilburn. Be returned to Cambridge in 1897, becoming assistant master at the Leys School before accepting the position at Emmanuel College. A composer of much service music and many anthems, Naylor also received acclaim for his cantatas and operas and was known for his writings about music, including Shakespeare and Music (1896) and The Poets and Music (1928).

One of the most thrilling unison tunes in the Psalter Hymnal, FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH opens with a hunting-horn figure (perfect fourth), which permeates the entire melody. Supported by a marching rhythm, the tune moves to a convincing climax in the fourth line. The tune's "strength, life, radiance, and thrust" (Stanley L. Osborne) force congregations to take the spiritual battle seriously. Crisp rhythms in the accompaniment and the use of trumpets will aid this battle call.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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