Stand Up For Jesus

Jim Gossweiler   -  

When I hear the resounding notes of the Christian hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” I’m transported to a time of unwavering devotion and a call to action that resonates deeply within my soul. This powerful hymn was composed by George Duffield Jr. in the mid-19th century, during a period of intense religious fervor and social change. The hymn itself is a call to arms, a battle cry for Christians to stand firm in their faith. Explore with me the history of this hymn, its use of simile and metaphor to depict the Christian life as a spiritual battle, and how it draws inspiration from the Bible.

George Duffield Jr., a Presbyterian minister from Pennsylvania, penned the lyrics to “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” in 1858, in the aftermath of a sermon honoring a young fellow minister who had passed away. The hymn was originally written as a tribute to that young minister, Dudley Tyng, who, in his final sermon, had used the phrase “Stand up for Jesus” as a rallying call to believers. Duffield was deeply moved by this call to action, and the hymn was born from his inspiration.

The hymn draws powerful parallels between living as a devout Christian and engaging in a battle. It employs similes and metaphors to illustrate this comparison.

The opening stanza of the hymn proclaims, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.” Here, the simile likens Christians to soldiers of the cross, emphasizing the idea of spiritual warfare. This theme aligns with passages from the Bible, such as Ephesians 6:12, which speaks of the “armor of God” and the struggle against spiritual forces of evil.

The second stanza continues with the metaphor of a battle: “Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.” The metaphor of lifting high a banner is reminiscent of military standards used in battle. In the Old Testament, banners or standards were often raised as a symbol of unity and to rally the troops. Similarly, in the Christian life, believers are called to exalt the name of Jesus and His teachings as their guiding standard.

The third stanza echoes the simile, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long.” It suggests that the Christian’s life is a conflict, a battle with a limited duration. This idea aligns with biblical references to the brevity of life, such as Psalm 90:10, which speaks of our days being “seventy years, or eighty, if we have the strength.”

The fourth stanza introduces another metaphor: “His day, the noise of battle, the next, the victor’s song.” This metaphor underscores the transition from the struggles of life to the triumph that awaits in the afterlife. It mirrors the Bible’s portrayal of the Christian journey as a path from trials and tribulations to eternal victory. Revelation 15:2 speaks of those who have conquered as “those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name.”

In the final stanza, the hymn calls on believers  with “To him that overcometh a crown of life shall be.” This use of metaphor links the Christian’s endurance in the battle to the reward of eternal life, echoing the promises of victory and reward found in the Bible. For example, Revelation 2:10 says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” is not merely a hymn but a fervent call to arms, urging Christians to live their faith as a battle, to lift high the banner of Jesus, and to stand firm in the face of life’s trials. Through its use of simile and metaphor, it captures the essence of the Christian journey, where faith is the weapon, prayer is the strategy, and eternal life is the ultimate prize. As I sing the hymn, I am reminded that my faith is a battle worth fighting and that the victory is assured for those who stand up for Jesus.