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Home News The Midweek Hymn: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

The Midweek Hymn: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

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I DON’T suppose Archbishop Justin Welby often reads the Midweek Hymn but just in case, I have chosen this one for its title as a direct rebuke to him. I am incredulous, sad and ashamed that he has closed all C of E churches at the very time when they are most needed, and when he was not even required by law to do so. Is he a Christian or a government sycophant?

Would Jesus have turned His back on his flock? Would He hell! He would have been in there, offering solace and comforting believers and unbelievers alike. The Archbishop has let down his clergy, many of whom are deeply distressed at not being able to carry out their duties as they would wish, his congregations, and his country.

This hymn is based on the dying words of an Episcopalian pastor, the Rev Dud­ley Atkins Tyng (1825-1858). Tyng, a third-generation clergyman, followed his father, the Rev Stephen H Tyng, into the pastorate of the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia in 1854, when he was 29. He was a resolute campaigner against slavery, but many wealthy church members owned slaves and his message was not universally welcomed. The result was a demand for Tyng’s removal only two years into his ministry.

Tyng withdrew from the church with some supporters. They formed the Church of the Covenant which gathered for worship in a small meeting hall on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

Tyng was a dynamic preacher. He began holding noontime services at the Young Men’s Christ­ian As­so­ci­a­tion in downtown Philadelphia, and these were enormously popular. They were a central part of the American religious revival of 1857-8, also known the third Great Awakening.

On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, Tyng gave a sermon at a YMCA meeting of over 5,000 men in the vast Jayne’s Hall, Philadelphia. He chose as his text Exodus 10:11, ‘Go now ye that are men, and serve the Lord’, and at one point 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.’ More than 1,000 in the audience were converted. It is considered one of the most suc­cess­ful ser­mons of mo­dern times.

The next week, Tyng visited the country. He was in a barn, watching a mule at work on a threshing machine. Tyng patted the mule on the neck, his sleeve was caught in the cogs of the machinery, and his arm was mangled, the main artery severed. Four days later infection developed.

Told that he would not survive, Tyng said, ‘Then it is very well. God’s will be done.’ He spent his last hours urging his doctor to be converted and asking his wife to encourage his sons to become pastors. At the end he held his father’s hand and whispered: ‘Stand up for Jesus, Father, and tell my brethren of the ministry, wherever you meet them, to stand up for Jesus!’ He was 33 years old.

The words were relayed to Tyng’s fellow anti-slavery campaigner George Duffield (1818-1888), a Presbyterian clergyman. Duffield wrote the hymn based on those words, and incorporated the phrase ‘Ye that are men now serve Him’ from Tyng’s memorable last sermon. At Tyng’s funeral, Duffield gave a sermon based on Ephesians 6:14, ‘Stand firm, wearing the whole armour of God’, and ended it by reciting the new hymn he had written as a tribute.

1 Stand up, stand up for Jesus
ye soldiers of the cross;
lift high his royal banner,
it must not suffer loss:
from vict’ry unto vict’ry
his army he shall lead,
’til ev’ry foe is vanquished,
and Christ is Lord indeed.

2 Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the trumpet call obey;
forth to the mighty conflict
in this his glorious day:
ye that are men now serve him
against unnumbered foes;
let courage rise with danger,
and strength to strength oppose.

3 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 armour,
each piece put on with pray’r;
where duty calls, or danger,
be never wanting there.

4 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 him that overcometh
a crown of life shall be;
he with the King of glory
shall reign eternally.

A Sunday school su­per­in­tend­ent was so impressed that he had the hymn print­ed for the children, and a co­py found its way to a Bap­tist news­pa­per. It was published in The Church Psalmist in 1859, paired with the tune Webb, by George James Webb (1803-1887). Webb was born in Salisbury and composed the tune in 1837 while on a transatlantic voyage to America, where he settled in New Jersey.

Here is a wonderful 1907 performance by The Edison Mixed Quartette.

This is the choir of Tewkesbury Abbey.

This is a joyful contemporary version by Nii Okai with the Harbour City Mass Choir at Mount Olivet Methodist Church, Kentucky.

Finally, it’s not quite perfect but this performance by the Red River Junior Academy Band of Winnipeg brims with enthusiasm.

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Margaret Ashworth
Margaret Ashworth is a retired national newspaper journalist. She runs the Subbing Clinic in a hopeless attempt to keep up standards, and co-runs A & M Records where she indulges her passion for 60s pop.

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