Oft In Danger, Oft In Woe

Representative Text

1 Oft in danger, oft in woe,
onward, Christians, onward go;
bear the toil, maintain the strife,
strengthened with the bread of life.

2 Onward, Christians, onward go,
join the war, and face the foe;
will ye flee in danger's hour?
Know ye not your Captain's power?

3 Let not sorrow dim your eye;
soon shall every tear be dry:
let not fears your course impede;
great your strength, if great your need.

4 Let your drooping hearts be glad;
march in heavenly armour clad;
fight, nor think the battle long:
soon shall victory wake your song.

5 Onward then in battle move;
more than conquerors ye shall prove:
though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.

Source: Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #755

Author: Henry Kirke White

White, Henry Kirke, a gifted English poet who died early in life, was born in Nottingham, England, March 21, 1785. Very early he manifested a remarkable love for books and a decided talent for composition. But his parents were poor, and he was apprenticed in early boyhood to a stocking weaver, from which uncongenial servitude he escaped as soon as he could and began the study of law; but later he was converted and felt called to the ministry. The story of his conversion from deism to Christianity is briefly but beautifully told in the poem titled "The Star of Bethlehem." He entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1805 as a servitor; but died October 19, 1806, in the second year of his college course, when only twenty-one years of age. In… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Oft in danger, oft in woe
Title: Oft In Danger, Oft In Woe
Author: Henry Kirke White (1806)
Language: English
Notes: This hymn came to light only after White's death, when it was found among his unpublished papers. In 1827, it was revised by Fuller-Maitland & included in a volume of hymns. Fuller-Maitland was only 14 years old at the time.
Copyright: Public Domain


Much in sorrow, oft in woe. H. K. White. [Christian Soldier encouraged.] In Collyer's Hymns partly Collected and partly Original, &c, 1812, No. 867, the following lines were given together with the note added thereto:—

”The Christian Soldier encouraged.
1 Tim. vi. 12. H. K. White.

“1. Much in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go,
Fight the fight, and worn with strife,
Steep with tears the bread of life.

"2. Onward, Christians, onward go,
Join the war, and face the foe:
Faint not—much doth yet remain,
Dreary is the long campaign.

"3. Shrink not, Christians—will ye yield ?
Will ye quit the painful field ?
*Fight till all the conflict's o'er,
Nor your foemen rally more.

"4. But when loud the trumpet blown
Speaks their forces overthrown,
Christ, your Captain, shall bestow
Crowns to grace the conqueror's brow."

[*The mutilated state of this hymn, which was written on the back of one of the mathematical papers of this excellent young man, and which came into my hands a mere fragment, rendered it necessary for something to be added—and I am answerable for the last six lines." ]
In 1827 Mrs. Bethia Fuller-Maitland compiled and published Hymns for Private Devotion, Selected and Original (London, Hatchards). In this work an enlarged form of "Much in sorrow, oft in woe," made by her daughter Frances Sara Fuller-Maitland, then but 14 years of age, was given as No. 106. White's stanzas i., ii., iii., ll. 1, 2, were given as above, and the following lines were added thereto:—

Will ye flee in danger's hour?
Know ye not your Captain's power? "
4. Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March in heavenly armour clad:
Fight, nor think the battle long,
Victory soon shall tune your song,"
5. Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall every tear be dry;
Let not woe your course impede,
Great your strength, if great your need,
6. Onward then to battle move,
More than conquerors ye shall prove;
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.

This text was republished by Mrs. Colquhoun, née Fuller-Maitland, in her Rhymes and Chimes (London, Macmillan), 1876. We may add that of the "original” compositions in the 1827 Hymns for Private Devotion, &c, one was by Miss F. S. Fuller-Maitland, and two others were by her sister Esther.
In his Christian Psalmody, 1833, No. 125, E. Bickersteth gave the White-Fuller-Maitland text in 4 stanzas, with several alterations, the most important being in stanza i., which read:—

"Of in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go;
Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
Strengthen’d with the bread of life."

Another version of the same text was given in Hall's Mitre Hymn Book, 1836, the opening lines of which are:—

Oft in danger, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go.”

From these four sources H. K. White, 1806; W. B. Collyer, 1812; F. S. Fuller-Maitland, 1827; E. Bickersteth, 1833 ; and W. J. Hall, 1836, the popular modern form of this hymn has been manipulated. In translating the hymn varying texts have been used. Those in Latin are (1) “Ito saepe per dolorem," by Bingham, in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871, is from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Psalms & Hymns, No. 273; and (2) "Vos dolores tolerantes," by Macgill in his Songs of the Christian Creed and Life, is from the Kirke White Fuller-Maitland version.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


Much in sorrow, oft in woe, p. 773, ii. From this "Christian, let your heart be glad," is taken.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)



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