Posted by: rcottrill | January 2, 2011

Stand Up for Jesus

Through 2010, Wordwise Hymns featured an Almanac of significant dates in hymn history. Posts now will provide further Reflections on our hymns from a biblical perspective, better equipping us to “sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:7).
There is an alphabetical Index (see tab above), listing the titles of the songs. (Links will be activated as these songs appear in the 2011 blog.) As well as being cross-linked to the 2010 Almanac, articles are linked to the original 1996 Cyber Hymnal. Unless otherwise specified, stanzas are numbered as they appear in the Cyber Hymnal, for example, CH-3, or CH-5.

Words: George Duffield Jr. (b. Sept. 12, 1818; d. July 6, 1888)
Music: Webb, by George James Webb (b. June 24, 1803; d. Oct. 7, 1887)
            Also, Geibel, by Adam Geibel (b. Sept. 15, 1855; d. Aug. 3, 1933)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

*Note: The tune Webb is the usual one used for congregational singing. I have more often heard the setting by Adam Geibel as a choral number.

The words and the meaning of this hymn are closely tied to its historical significance (see the Wordwise Hymns link). Philadelphia Pastor George Duffield wrote the hymn poem in memory of his friend, another local clergyman named Dudley Tyng. There are a number of scriptural quotations and allusions in the hymn. The most interesting of these (“Ye that are men now serve Him,” in CH-3) quotes the text of a sermon Tyng preached to thousands of men at the YMCA, about three weeks before his death, on April 19, 1858.

Rev. Tyng’s sermon text was Exodus 10:11, “Go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord” (KJV). But a look at the context of these words shows they are not quite what they seem. They are spoken in unbelief by a heathen king. At the Lord’s command, Moses and Aaron had called for the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. However, Pharaoh hoped that a compromise would satisfy them. He wanted to allow only the men to go briefly into the wilderness to celebrate a feast to their God. The women and children were to be left behind, serving as hostages to assure the return of the men (vs. 8-11).

Even though the text of Pastor Tyng’s message is taken out of its original context, it does issue a stirring challenge, as he used it. He preached the gospel, declaring that all are sinners under God’s condemnation, and that the men present needed to repent and put their faith in Christ for salvation. In response, over a thousand of the men committed their lives to Christ that day. Later, as he lay dying, Tyng was asked if he had any further word for the men. “Tell them,” he said, “to stand up for Jesus.”

Two other Bible texts in the hymn deserve mention. “The arm of flesh will fail you” (CH-4) seems like a reference to the accident that eventually took Dudley Tyng’s life. He had caught his arm in a corn thresher, and died shortly after, when infection set in. Actually, the statement is an allusion to II Chronicles 32:8. Sennacherib and the Assyrian army had surrounded the city of Jerusalem, but King Hezekiah encouraged the people, saying: “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us.”

For a sermon preached on the Sunday after Dudley Tyng’s death, Pastor George Duffield chose as his text Ephesians 6:14, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.” The entire passage, vs. 10-18, concerns the armour God has provided to protect the Christian from the assaults of our enemy, Satan. As the hymn says (CH-4), “Put on the gospel armour, each piece put on with prayer” (cf. vs. 18). For an article describing the Christian’s spiritual armour in detail, and its function, see Christian Armour.

Paul challenges young Timothy, “You…must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 2:3). And the Lord’s promise to the persecuted Christians at Smyrna is: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life…He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:10-11). Pastor Duffield alludes to this in his final stanza (CH-6): “To him that overcometh a crown of life shall be; / He with the King of glory shall reign eternally.”

1) What are some current issues in society concerning which you believe Christians need to take a definite stand?

2) Dudley Tyng’s ministry at the time of his death was especially aimed at men. What can we do to encourage and help Christian men to stand for God?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Response to question #1: Regarding this news report of lewd videos being shown to the entire crew of a US Navy ship: I hope that the Christians on board had the courage to get up and walk out when they saw what the videos were about. That would have been a good time for a hymn sing in a room far from the movie room!

    • I get my share of spam, as I expect all bloggers do. And when I scanned a post that talked about lewd videos being shown to the US Navy, my first reaction was to consign it to the discard pile! “What has that got to do with hymns?” I thought. My quick perusal had missed the opening words. (Let that be a lesson to me!) Apologies. The comment is, of course, a practical example of taking a stand for Christ. Thanks for the input.


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