Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus
Text: George Duffield, Jr. 1818-1888, alt.
(Lutheran Service Book 660)
Primary Texts: Luke 9:23–26; 1 John 5:4–5; 1 Corinthians 15:25, 55–57; Ephesians 6:11–18
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
Till ev’ry foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus;
The trumpet call obey;
Stand forth in mighty conflict
In this His glorious day.
Let all His faithful 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;
The strife will not be long;
This day the din of battle,
The next the victor’s song.
The soldiers, overcoming,
Their crown of life shall see
And with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.
“This popular American hymn, by George Duffield, 1858, has an unusual origin, which the author himself gives in a letter dated May 29. 1883:
‘Stand Up for Jesus” was the dying message of the Rev. Dudley A. Tyng to the Young Men’s Christian Association and the ministers associated with them in the Noon-day Prayer Meeting during the great revival of 1858, usually known as “The Work of God in Philadelphia.”
‘A very dear personal friend, I knew young Tyng as one of the noblest, bravest, manliest men I ever met. … The Sabbath before his death he preached in the immense edifice known as Jaynes’s Hall, one of the most successful sermons of modern times. Of the five thousand men there assembled at least one thousand, it was believed, were “the slain of the Lord.” His text was Ex. 10:11, and hence the allusion in the third verse of the hymn.
‘The following Wednesday, leaving his study for a moment, he went to the barn floor, where a mule was at work on a horse-power shelling corn. Patting him on the neck, the sleeve of his silk study gown caught in the cogs of the wheel, and his arm was torn out by the roots! His death occurred in a few hours. …
‘The following Sunday the author of the hymn preached from Eph. 6:14, and the above verses were written simply as the concluding exhortation. The superintendent of the Sabbath-school had a fly-leaf printed for the children, -- a stray copy found its way into a Baptist newspaper, -- and from that paper it has gone in English and in German and Latin translations all over the world. The first time the author heard it sung outside of his own denomination was in 1864 as the favorite song of the Christian soldiers in the Army of the James. …
‘Notwithstanding the many mutilations and alterations and perversions to which this hymn has been subjected, it is but proper to say that since the night it was written, it has never been altered by the author in a single verse, a single line, or a single word, and it is his earnest wish that it shall continue unaltered until the Soldiers of the Cross shall replace it by something better.’”
(The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal, W.G. Polakc, Concordia Publishing House, 1954, page320)
As you can tell from the little “alt.”, our form of the hymn has been altered, in spite of the desires of the author. The first alteration is the omission of two verses, which most hymnals omit. The second alteration is some updating of the vocabulary. So, for example, our third line in the second verse reads, “Stand forth in mighty conflict” while the original read, “Forth to the mighty conflict.” As you can tell, the thought in the line has not been changed (at least not much) but adapted to contemporary sentiments (standing our ground instead of going forth). The alteration does seem to harmonize with the opening line of each verse better.
The first line of each verse is always the same: “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” Christians are to take a firm stance on Christ and His teachings. This thought is found in Ephesians 6:11–18.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:11–18)
In verses 14 & 15 we read that we are to stand on the truth of God’s Word and specifically Christ’s “gospel of peace,” which is the Good News of what Jesus has done for us in making peace between us and God through the cross. Through faith in Jesus we are made righteous and prepared for battle.
It is no secret that life is filled with temptations and strife, some which come because we are followers of Christ. Jesus speaks of this in Luke 9:23–26.
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23–26)
Jesus does not proclaim that everyone one will love us or that we will get everything our human hearts desire, or that no sufferings or loss will come our way, etc. What he does promise here is that, by clinging to Him and His teachings—which include His death on the cross for our sins and glorious resurrection—we can be certain that He will lead us to victory against all the forces of evil. We are His soldiers of the cross, carrying His banner, like verse one of the hymn says. We will not see the ultimate victory until the Second Coming of Jesus (verse four), but it is ours by promise and we will more fully partake of that victory when we die here in time.
This victory belongs only to believers in Christ. The Apostle John writes about it in his first letter.
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4–5)
The one who overcomes the world is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. So we do not trust “the arm of flesh.” We stand on Christ and His promises. Again, “overcoming the world” does not mean no sickness, no poverty, no enemies, no death, in this fallen world. It does not mean that everyone on the earth will be converted. It means we remain faithful even when all the problems of this life assail us, It means we will be with the Lord when we die. It means we will be raised in glory on the Last Day.
If we go back to Ephesians 6:11–18 (quoted above) we find Paul using military symbolism. This, of course, fits the symbolism of this hymn. In verse 12 he tells us that our enemies are really spiritual foes. Yes, they may use “flesh and blood” in the battle, but the real opponents are “the rulers, … the authorities, … the cosmic powers over this present darkness, … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Because Paul has already said our enemies are not “flesh and blood,” the terms “rulers” and “authorities” are not a reference to human rulers but to fallen spiritual powers. In 1 Corinthians 15:25 Paul teaches us that Christ “must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” It can be boiled down to this: Christians are soldiers fighting incredible enemies; but Christ is with us. He will “put all His enemies under His feet.”
Jesus leads us to the ultimate victory, our resurrection and eternity with Him. This is a fundamental teaching of the Church and found in each of the Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene and Athanasian). Paul writes of it to the Corinthians:
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)
Because of this great victory we are to thank God (verse 57). He will lead us to victory, but we are to follow him (John 10:27). We do this by treasuring His Means of Grace. We are to cling to our Baptism, partake of His Supper, and immerse ourselves in His Word. In this way we are equipped to stand up for Jesus. In this way we are prepared to hear the victor’s song.