Sunday, February 15, 2009

“Am I a soldier of the cross?”

One thing that stays with me from the church experience of the first 30-plus years of my life are the hymns. Now, I’m not one of those who is opposed to all things contemporary in music, nor am I one who wants all hymns and classical music. Nevertheless, there is something special about hymns, particularly those “Common Meter”, “Long Meter” and “Short Meter” hymns that were common in the denomination in which I came to faith.

One hymn that has frequently come to mind over the years, and which seems to carry more personal meaning for me the older I get, is the hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” by Isaac Watts (1674-1748). We always used to sing this hymn to the tune, “Arlington”, by Thomas Arne (1710-1778). Reading the words of Dr. Watts makes me long for “that illustrious day” when it will be announced that the “kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever”(Revelation 11:15).

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign:
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith they bring it nigh.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
The glory shall be Thine.


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