Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hymn of the Week--The Son of God Goes Forth to War

It occurs to me that all of you poor folks out there who have emasculated hymnals probably don't have this one. Perhaps it's better if you don't have it. I'd hate to think what the feminizers would do to it. Anyway, I find it in both my Baptist and my Anglican hymnals, though we never sang it for some reason when I was growing up. But my father-in-law knows it, so the Baptists in his day must have sung it. Wish I could put up the tune to it. But if you already know it, I hope it gets it humming in your heads:

The Son of God goes forth to war
A kingly crown to gain.
His blood-red banner streams afar,
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe
Triumphant over pain.
Who patient bears His cross below
He follows in His train.

The middle verses go through the martyr Stephen and the Apostles. My favorite line from the Apostles' verse is "They met the tyrant's brandished steel/the lion's gory mane." For some reason the "gory mane" always makes Eldest Daughter get the giggles. I think that phrase exemplifies some sort of literary form with a Greek name, but I'm not going to guess what it's called. Here's the last verse:

A noble army, men and boys
The matron and the maid
Around the Savior's throne rejoice
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav'n
Through peril, toil, and pain.
Oh God, to us may grace be given
To follow in their train.

Amen! That's what I mean if I get to church on time of a Sunday morning for the Apostles' Creed in Morning Prayer and say "I believe in the Communion of the Saints." (Middle Daughter, of theological turn of mind, insists the "Communion of the Saints" means we will receive Communion in heaven. I haven't been able to convince her otherwise. I believe hers is the Eastern Orthodox view of the matter, though contrary to Aquinas's.)

Anyway, the Communion of the Saints, that great crowd of witnesses. May grace be given to follow in their train!

Update: Ivan in a thread below tells me that I should try to find recordings of these hymns. I haven't been terribly lucky so far. (I haven't been able to find a good recording of "In Shady Green Pastures" for example.) But here is a page with hymns as found in a Lutheran hymnal, and you can find "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" down the page and hear the tune, if by any chance you didn't already know it. (The harmonization in the Anglican and Baptist hymnals is better, IMO, but ya' can't have everything.)

No comments: