Birds in Hymns – The Son of God Goes Forth to War

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Quy Tran

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by Quy Tran

But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. (Matthew 20:22 KJV)

Words: Reginald He­ber, 1812.
(This hymn was sung in the 1975 mo­vie The Man Who Would Be King, which was nom­in­at­ed for sev­er­al Acad­e­my Awards.)

Music: All Saints, Hen­ry S. Cut­ler, in The Hymn­al with Tunes Old and New, by John Ire­land Tuck­er, 1872

Al­ter­nate tunes:

Old 81st, Day’s Psal­ter, 1562

St. Anne, Will­iam Croft, 1708

Warrior, Ar­chi­bald Mac­Don­ald, 1877

In Mrs. Ew­ing’ Sto­ry of a Short Life it is the favorite hymn in the bar­racks, where the sol­diers call it the ‘tug of war’ hymn. The of­fi­cer’s son, who had been crip­pled for life by an ac­ci­dent, begs just be­fore his death that the sol­diers will sing it again. They go un­der his win­dow, and when in the midst of the verse, ‘A no­ble ar­my, men and boys,’ a hand is seen at the win­dow pull­ing down the blind. The brave suf­fer­er is gone. The sto­ry made the hymn wide­ly pop­u­lar among child­ren as the ‘tug of war’ hymn. Telford, p. 410

The Son of God Goes Forth to War

*

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.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in his train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came;
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant’s brandished steel,
The lion’s gory mane;
They bowed their heads the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?

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;
O God, to us may grace be giv’n,
To follow in their train.
*

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