BATTLE HYMN

If soldiers rest when strife is done,
When war is through and peace is won,
When enemies exist no more,
If only then and not before,
Then why do Christians rest at ease
While sin is winning victories?
Why does our armor idly stand
While Satan gains on every hand?
Why is the sword of Truth still sheathed
While bonds of error hold men grieved?
Why is the shield of Faith untried
While doubt assails on every side?
Why is Hope’s helmet put away
While souls are dying every day?

II

Have we renounced the battle’s heat
And fled the field in full retreat
For safer ground behind the walls
Of air-conditioned, marbled halls
Where we, in ease, can snipe at sin
And shout a challenge now and then?
Is ritual our substitute
To serve for bearing righteous fruit?
Are we content in singing songs
To quench our zeal for righting wrongs?
Have words become our shot and shell
Instead of deeds sin’s threat to quell?
Have steeples tall and temples wide
Become mere shows of human pride?

III

The church is not a barricade
To shelter saints who are afraid
To meet sin’s challenge face to face
Out in life’s streets and market place;
Its destiny by Christ was sealed
—God’s outpost on the battlefield
Where saints retire for but a span
To hear again the battle plan
And take afresh the Bread of Life
For sustenance out in the strife,
To gather stores and sharpen spears,
To win and train new volunteers,
To praise the King and pledge anew
Our will to see His battle through.

IV

Too often we—to God’s dismay—
Go marching off on feet of clay
To fall before the foe is met
Or crumble at his slightest threat;
We wear parade attire with pride
While battle dress is lain aside;
We seek the seats of high command
Without a taste of war first-hand
And praise ourselves for honors gained
On training fields in battles feigned;
We spurn the strength of Heaven’s throne,
Preferring weapons of our own,
Then flail away with reckless aim
At foe and fellow just the same.

V

God hasn’t given sticks and staves
For us to use to free sin’s slaves
And drive away from earth’s domain
The tempter and his terror reign;
The arsenal God opens wide
Would never fail if fully tried:
Put on for armor righteousness—
A most effective battle dress—
And take as sword His truth sublime,
Unscathed by the trials of time;
Lift high faith’s shield, it shall not fail
Though Satan’s fiery darts assail;
And shun no longer Heaven’s might—
Take fervent prayer into the fight.

VI

The war to end all wars shall come
When saints at last march to the drum
Of undivided loyalty;
Its roll yet sounds with urgency
To bear Christ’s name to every land;
So, set your hearts to His command;
Be unallured by worldly life;
Throw heart and soul into the strife;
His soldiers thrive on sacrifice
And count not life too high a price,
Yet, none has ever laid his down
That he did not receive a crown;
Nor has one resolutely fought,
Then found his striving was for naught.

VII

No soldier fights effectively
Who fails to know the enemy;
The sinful man is not the knave,
For God so loved him that He gave
His Son to take the sinner’s place
To bear his sorrow and disgrace;
Nay! Not the sinner, but the sin;
This is the foe of God and men,
The foe who gains his hold and thrives
Within the chinks in Christians’ lives
And enervates our will to win
Or fight at all the sway of sin;
We cannot serve with loyalty
Both Christ and sin—which will it be?
                       
1975 J. G. Braddock Sr








 

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J. G. Braddock Sr.
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