I announced the hymn and sat down. The organist began to play. I paged through my hymnal to find the number. When I looked up, it had started.
The first one to stand up didn’t surprise me. He has always marched to the beat of his own drummer. But then another and then another. Soon I joined them.
By the end of the first stanza, the entire congregation was on its feet with a smile on its face. In fact, that was the last time we ever began the hymn Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus sitting down.
It’s just not a sit down hymn.
Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus was written in 1858 by a Presbyterian pastor and abolitionist named George Duffield. The hymn was inspired by a fellow pastor and abolitionist named Dudley A. Tyng.
Tyng was a young, fiery Episcopalian preacher from Pennsylvania who had recently been removed from his parish due to his abolitionist rhetoric. After his dismissal, he set out to begin an evangelical revival in his home state.
In March of 1858, Tyng gave a rousing sermon to over 5,000 men at a YMCA gathering. Reportedly over 1,000 men came to faith in Jesus that very night. Duffield was in attendance.
Only days later, Tyng was working in the study of his country home when he decided to take a break. He walked out to the barn where a mule was at work running a horse-powered machine to shell corn. Tyng patted the mule on the neck, but the sleeve of his silk study gown got caught in the cogs of the wheel. His arm was torn from its socket.
The wound became mortal and Tyng died less than a week later.
At his funeral, the preacher shared with those in attendance – including George Duffield – Tyng’s dying words. Speaking to his father, Tyng reportedly said, “Stand up for Jesus, father, stand up for Jesus, and tell my brethren wherever you meet them, to stand up for Jesus.”
So inspired by Tyng’s last words, Duffield wrote a sermon the following Sunday based on Ephesians 6:14, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.” The sermon ended with an original poem, which became the hymn we now know as Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.
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 shall he lead
Till ev’ry foe is vanquished and Christ is Lord indeed.
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! 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.
We are at war. Devils and demons whisper in our ears. Our own sinful selfishness pulls and pushes against our hearts. Our world pressures us to timidly sit in silence as it mocks our God.
But how can we stay sitting down? He has won the victory for us. He forgives us when we fail. He gives us the crown of victory we do not deserve. And besides, he gives us the strength to stand and overcome any and every temptation.
So let’s stand up – not just in comfortable confines of our church – but also out there in the trenches. Stand up and let your voice be heard in the upcoming elections. Stand up and live a life which stands out. Stand up to the devil and the world and all their lies.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus!