Posted by: rcottrill | June 27, 2012

Sound the Battle Cry

Words: William Fisk Sherman (b. Mar. 14, 1826; d. Apr. 14, 1888)
Music: William Fisk Sherman

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Words and music for this rousing gospel song were first published in 1869. The dust had barely settled from the cavalry charges of the American Civil War that ended in 1865. We catch the spirit of that mortal conflict here, applied to our battle for the Lord.

Service for Christ is to be patient, gracious and loving (I Thess. 5:14; I Tim. 5:11). But it also involves spiritual conflict (Eph. 6:10-17; I Tim. 1:18; 6:12; II Tim. 2:1, 3-4). There is a great deal of wisdom in this simply gospel song. Mr. Fisk identifies several things in CH-1 and on that the church of Jesus Christ, and individual Christians, should be doing:

1) “Sound the battle cry.” Let people know there is an enemy to face, and a spiritual battle to be fought. We need to “rouse then,” (refrain) both ourselves and others. Time to wake up and be on the alert.

2) “See the foe is nigh.” Satan is ever on the prowl. “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).

3) “Raise the standard high for the Lord.” In ancient warfare an army’s “standard” or banner became a rallying point, a encouragement to others to keep fighting and maintain their stand. There’s an echo of George Root’s Civil War song here:

Yes we’ll rally round the flag, boys,
Rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom.

“When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19). So, as Fisk’s refrain puts it, let us “rally round the banner” of the cross of Christ.

4) “Gird your armour on.” The Word of God goes into some detail regarding the Christian’s armour (Eph. 6:10-17; cf. Heb. 4:12). If you want a detailed explanation of each piece of equipment, see my article Christian Armour.

5) “Stand firm everyone.” It’s the bottom line, in Christian conflict–“and having done all, to stand [remain steadfast in the faith]” (Eph. 6:13). “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (I Cor. 16:13). William Fisk explains what this entails in his next line.

6) “Rest your cause upon His holy Word.” He’s speaking of the rest of faith, that trusts fully in the promises of God.

7) In CH-2 the author encourages believers by reminding us that “our cause, we know, must prevail,” and ultimately “we ne’er can fail. The plan and purpose of a sovereign God will come to a successful conclusion.

8) That being so, we look forward to our triumphant gathering before the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the distribution of heavenly rewards.

CH-3) O! Thou God of all, hear us when we call,
Help us one and all by Thy grace;
When the battle’s done, and the vict’ry’s won,
May we wear the crown before Thy face.

1) What are some key things that can help us to remain gracious, patient and loving, on the one hand, and fiercely determined as fighters for the Lord, on the other?

2) In your own community, what particular battle lines have been drawn between God’s holy standard, as opposed to worldliness and sin?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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