Words: George Duffield, Jr, 1858. Music: Webb, George J. Webb, 1830
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the solemn watchword hear;
If while ye sleep He suffers, away with shame and fear;
Where’er ye meet with evil, within you or without,
Charge for the God of battles, and put the foe to rout.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;
Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.
Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;
Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, each soldier to his post,
Close up the broken column, and shout through all the host:
Make good the loss so heavy, in those that still remain,
And prove to all around you that death itself is gain.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.
There is an unusual story behind this particular hymn. The hymn writer George Duffield, was not a direct participant in the story, but was so moved by another man’s testimony that he chose to write this hymn. Duffield penned those verses in tribute to the dying words of a dear friend, Dudley Tyng. The story is worth repeating for it has a message relevant for anyone seeking after God’s heart. Tyng was used of God mightily in one of the great revivals of American history. Here’s the story:
The Story Behind the Hymn
George Duffield, Jr., 1818 – 1888, was brother to Colonel William Duffield, commander of the 9th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This unit is credited with building Fort Duffield, in the fall of 1861, a Union earthen fortification, situated in West Point, Hardin County, Kentucky.
George Duffield, Jr. graduated from Yale University, in 1837, and from Union Theological Seminary, in 1840. Like his father and grandfather before him, he was a Presbyterian minister. A good friend and fellow minister was Reverend Stephen H. Tyng.
In the year 1858, a great citywide revival swept across the city of Philadelphia. It was called The Work of God in Philadelphia. Of the participating ministers none was more powerful than the twenty-nine year old Episcopalian, Dudley Tyng. He was known as a bold, fearless and uncompromising preacher with great influence on the other spiritual leaders around him. His father, the Reverend Stephen H. Tyng, was for many years the pastor of the large Episcopalian Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia. After serving a short time as his father’s assistant, Dudley succeeded his father in this pulpit. However, some of the more fashionable members soon became upset with their young preacher because of his straightforward doctrinal preaching and his strong stand against slavery. He resigned this pulpit and with a group of faithful followers organized The Church of the Covenant.
In addition to his duties as pastor of the new and growing congregation, Tyng began holding noonday services at the downtown Y.M.C.A. Great crowds were attracted to hear this dynamic young preacher. On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, over 5,000 men gathered for a noon mass meeting to hear young Tyng preach from Exodus 10:11 – “Go now ye that are men and serve the Lord.” Over 1,000 of these men responded by committing their hearts and lives to Christ and His service; the sermon was often termed one of the most successful of the times. During the sermon the young preacher remarked, “I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather that this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.” The next week, while visiting in the country and watching the operation of a corn thrasher in a barn, he accidentally caught his loose sleeve between the cogs; the arm was lacerated severely, the main artery was severed and the median nerve was injured. Four days later infection developed. As a result of shock and a great loss of blood, Dudley Tyng died, on April 19, 1858.
At his deathbed, when asked by a group of sorrowful friends and ministers for a final statement, he whispered, “Let us all stand up for Jesus.” The next Sunday Tyng’s close friend and fellow worker, the Reverend George Duffield, pastor of the Temple Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, preached his morning sermon as a tribute to his departed friend, choosing as his text Ephesians 6:14: “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” He closed his sermon by reading a poem of six stanzas that he had written, inspired, as he told his people, by the dying words of his esteemed friend.
Reverend Duffield’s Sunday School superintendent was so impressed by the verses that he had them printed for distribution throughout the Sunday School. The editor of a Baptist periodical happened to receive one of these pamphlets and promptly gave it a wider circulation. From there it eventually found its way into the hymnals and hearts of God’s people across the world. George J. Webb wrote the music for the hymn. A preacher of the gospel for 48 years, George Duffield, Jr. also served as a Christian Commission delegate at Gettysburg. He later served as a Regent of the University of Michigan.
Couple of comments on the lyrics:
This hymn is really a call to service, but it is also the challenge of every believer. How do we stand up for Jesus in a generation that is not willing to stand for much or even anything at all?
- “Unnumbered foes” – Does it seem sometimes that there is an enemy around every corner? Do you feel outnumbered by unnumbered foes? I was reminded of many Old Testament battles where that was the case as well. Many times God’s people would be led into a battle that seemed impossible to win. Sometimes God gave them strength to destroy their enemies in the battle. Other times, God fought the battle for them. If today, you are facing a battle against an enemy that seems too powerful, or you feel like you are facing “unnumbered foes,” I encourage you to stand firm, be brave, and trust in the Lord. The Bible reminds us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Romans 8:37.
- Each piece put on with prayer – I like the reference here to the armor of God that Paul details in Ephesians 6. What I like about this phrase is the importance of prayer as we armor ourselves for the battle. We can’t appropriately armor ourselves with the belt of truth, or the breastplate of righteousness, or the helmet of salvation, or the shield of faith without prayer. Paul finishes the armor of God passage with the following words. I don’t think it was an accident how many times the word pray(er) is referenced. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, or which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
There’s an old saying that says “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” In some ways, I agree with that statement. However, just standing up for “something” is really not sufficient from a Christian perspective. We can as citizens of the world can stand against many evil deeds, taxation, gay marriages or the stewardship of the environment and national resources. We may view these things as “important” and we may chose to take a stand on these particular political issues. However, I wonder sometimes if we are as passionate about the cause of Christ as we may be about other “good causes.”
Unfortunately, it is easy in our culture to take a stand for or against certain things. We can get on the bandwagon and sign petition lists, put a bumper sticker on our car, and even email and call our Members of parliament. But it seems much more difficult to stand up for Christ. Although Christ is the Great Reconciler, He is, and His stances on certain issues, can be divisive. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that “…the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Bible’s stances on divorce, homosexuality, sin, money, lust, and hell can make people uncomfortable, especially in morden culture. Jesus’ words “to sell everything you have” (Luke 18:22) or “to deny yourself and take up your cross” (Luke 9:23) are tough words. The question for us as believers is will we stand up for Him? Stand up for Jesus? Will we stand with the Word of God when the world is attacking Biblical truth from every corner?
The author of this hymn was challenged by the final words of a man on his deathbed to stand up for Jesus. Paul challenges all of us from inside prison walls to “stand firm in the faith.” I hope that the words of Scripture, the challenge of this particular hymn, and the testimony of this minister will remind us all to “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus.”
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” ( Ephesians 6:14)