Onward Christian Soldiers!

The Funeral

Today, I will be speaking at a funeral where Ben Nelson, a Navy veteran and Christian, requested only one song to be sung, and therefore my daughter, Katie will be singing it: “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

330px-Onward,_Christian_SoldiersI don’t think I have ever been to a funeral where this song was sung. As a matter of fact, it has been a while since I have heard this song sung at all. So, believe it or not, Katie and I had to look up the words in order to practice it. When I did, unlike times in the past, the lyrics hit me like a kick in the gut.

The Fight

I know that using words like soldier, army, marching, and war, especially in a religious context, can make many people nervous, if not stir up the boiling vile surely to spew from the rabid atheists and God-haters.

However, whether we want to admit it or not, soldier is term for the Christian we cannot ignore.

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 KJV

The difference between the way the modern militant Islamist and the apostle Paul use this word are of paramount importance. The first spills the blood of the conquered as they move onward, the second moves forward in battle for a Kingdom built on the once-for-all shed blood of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.

The Song

Some hymnals have removed it; others have reworded it. I’m all for rescuing this old song from the ash heaps of Hollywood stereotypes and parodies, especially the liberal, tree-hugging, non-confrontational types who want to trash it, and start singing it again withing the congregation.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12 NLT


Onward Christian Soldiers

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 banners go!


Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.


Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.


What the saints established that I hold for true.
What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.


Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.


Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Culture Wars, current events, Faith, God, ministry, Preaching, World View

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