Posted by: rcottrill | June 1, 2012

Faith Is the Victory

Words: John Henry Yates (b. Nov. 21, 1837; d. Sept. 5, 1900)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

NOTE: John Yates worked his way through several careers over the years– he was shoe salesman, a newspaper editor, and hard-ware store manager, until becoming a pastor in 1886. It was after this that he met Ira Sankey, D. L. Moody’s song leader. Sankey was in Buffalo, New York, at the time, and Yates came over from Batavia to see him.

In his book, My Life and the Story of the Gospel Hymns, Mr. Sankey says, “I urged him to spend more of his time writing gospel hymns.” Yates later sent the musician several song-poems he’s written, and this is one of them. Sankey, a Civil War veteran, captured the mood of the song well with a tune that seems to mimic the galloping hooves of a troop of soldiers.

CH-1) Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.

Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.

There is an interesting fact concerning that book of Ira Sankey’s. It’s a volume giving us an enlightening look at many of the nineteenth century writers of sacred music, and the background of their songs. But it almost failed to get published!

The original manuscript was destroyed in a fire. By this time (around 1905) Sankey was an elderly man, weak in body, and blind. But he dictated the entire book from memory to a secretary. Very few historical errors have been discovered in the end result. It was a truly amazing feat.

The Bible text from which the theme for Faith is the Victory is drawn is First John 5:4–“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith (ESV). Everyone who is a born again believer is, by definition, an “overcomer” (Rom. 8:37; I Cor. 15:57). And we are able to break free from the sinful values and lifestyle characteristic of the unbelieving world by reliance on the power of the indwelling Spirit of God.

Pastor Yates alludes to a number of other Scriptures in his song, especially the teaching of Ephesians on the Christian soldier’s spiritual armour (Eph. 6:10-17). We have “our sword the Word of God” (CH-2), “salvation’s helmet on each head,” and “with truth all girt about” (CH-3). By this means, believers are protected and equipped to face Satan, the enemy of our souls. For a full explanation of the armour, see Christian Armour.

Many hymns and gospel songs have been written on the subject of spiritual warfare. (The Cyber Hymnal lists 163 of them!) Here is a small sampling:

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?
Fight the Good Fight
Hold the Fort
Onward, Christian Soldiers
Soldiers of Christ, Arise
Sound the Battle Cry
Stand Up for Jesus
The Banner of the Cross
The Fight Is On
Victory Through Grace
Who Is on the Lord’s Side?

One day, the Lord Jesus Christ will come again, and the warfare against the devil and his hosts will end forever. Until then, we need to be ready to serve as loyal soldiers in the army of the Lord (II Tim. 2:3-4).

CH-4) To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring name.

1) For you personally, what are the most stirring and encouraging hymns on spiritual warfare?

2) What are some of the reasons why Christians sometimes suffer defeat at the hands of the enemy?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


%d bloggers like this: