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Onwards Christian Soldiers

December 9, 2006

Forgive me if this post is found to be offensive to any readers, but even I do not understand this. Soon it will be the Chief Constable’s carol concert. Recently I have been hearing, as in since last year, I have been hearing how the lyrics to the hymn above have been changed. I understand the situation we are in with Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel and Lebanon, and that some may view this as a war between Christianity and Islam. Therefore, clearly some light headed people might view the words above similarly. What I can’t find out is the background of the hymn. The hymn itself is sung on Remembrance Day and this to me is about remembering the soldiers that died in the first and second world wars. Unless I am mistaken both wars related to Fascist power and both Christian and non-Christians fought together. In the North of India a very serious battle was won in the Second World War against the Japanese that marked a turning point in the history of World War II in relation to the Japanese. Indian and British troops stood together. In Italy, Indian troops were present yet again. The use of the words, Onwards Christian Soldiers does not offend me personally. Today, as in the present, in Lebanon, when the Israeli’s accidentally bombed the NATO HQ, there is a picture of Indian soldiers. This image is a beautiful picture from the Times newspaper. Arguably, and I am not anti Islamic, but these wars are about two faiths, Christianity and Islam. Why then are the words to the hymn deemed so offensive? They relate to our history.
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7 comments

  1. I understand the original words to this hymn are about Christians fighting a war, but not the war we have come to know.
    I have no idea why it is played on remembrance day or see what it can really mean in that sense.


  2. Words: Sa­bine Bar­ing-Gould, in Church Times, 1865. This hymn is sung at the end of the 1942 Acad­e­my Award-win­ning mo­vie, “Mrs. Min­i­ver.”

    Music: St. Ger­trude, Ar­thur S. Sul­li­van, 1871 (MI­DI, score).

    Arthur S. Sullivan (1842-1900)

    Baring-Gould wrote about this hymn:

    Whit-Mon­day is a great day for school fes­tiv­als in York­shire. One Whit-Mon­day, thir­ty years ago, it was ar­ranged that our school should join forc­es with that of a neigh­bor­ing vil­lage. I want­ed the child­ren to sing when march­ing from one vil­lage to another, but couldn’t think of any­thing quite suit­a­ble; so I sat up at night, re­solved that I would write some­thing myself. “Onward, Christ­ian Sol­diers” was the re­sult. It was writ­ten in great haste, and I am afraid some of the rhymes are faulty. Cer­tain­ly no­thing has sur­prised me more than its pop­u­lar­i­ty. I don’t re­mem­ber how it got print­ed first, but I know that very soon it found its way into sev­er­al col­lect­ions. I have writ­ten a few other hymns since then, but only two or three have be­come at all well-known.

    This hymn was sung at the fun­er­al of Amer­i­can pre­si­dent Dwight Ei­sen­how­er at the Na­tion­al Ca­thed­ral, Wash­ing­ton, DC, March 1969.

    ——————————————————————————–

    Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus going on before.
    Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
    Forward into battle see His banners go!

    Refrain

    Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus going on before.

    At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
    On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
    Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
    Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

    Refrain

    Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
    Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
    We are not divided, all one body we,
    One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

    Refrain

    What the saints established that I hold for true.
    What the saints believèd, that I believe too.
    Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold,
    Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.

    Refrain

    Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
    But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
    Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail;
    We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

    Refrain

    Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
    Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
    Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King,
    This through countless ages men and angels sing.

    Refrain


  3. The hymn was written in the late 19th Century, the reasons etc posted above. They’ve got bugger all to do with any war, and certainly bugger all to do with any other religious conflict, if anyone thinks so, then they are stupid and patronising.


  4. Anonymous you may be absolutely right and thank you for adding something positive. The words had nothing to do with war as I read it. It might be stupid to you and the hymn does not offend me, but bearing in mind the mumblings of Blair and Bush, how are Muslim people viewing the hymn in Bradford, Oldham, Dunstable, The West Midlands? And it is sung on Remembrance Day. Soldiers both sides are dyeing. Thanks again. Is it possible that we can patronise each other, not you and I, but peoples, I wonder?


  5. Well the muslim people you refer to should look at the ‘FACTS’, and get on with life and stop looking to be offended.

    I don’t actually think the great majority of muslim people in this country get exercised by such matters in any case. They’ve lives to lead like the rest of us.


  6. Maybe we should put ourselves in the shoes of terrorists? Not that I want to. I say this perceptually. Maybe most Muslim people don’t have issues with the words. Facts are great but perceptions can have an impact on policing and other sectors. Do we want to integrate young Muslim people on the margins or do we simply want to have an ethnocentric stance and hold on to that?


  7. Maybe we should put ourselves in the shoes of terrorists? Not that I want to. I say this perceptually. Maybe most Muslim people don’t have issues with the words. Facts are great but perceptions can have an impact on policing and other sectors. Do we want to integrate young Muslim people on the margins or do we simply want to have an ethnocentric stance and hold on to that?



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