Onward, Christian Soldiers

“Onward, Christian Soldiers” is a 19th century English hymn with words by Sabine Baring-Gould and music by Arthur Sullivan.

“Onward, Christian Soldiers” was inspired by passages in the New Testament: “Thou shalt endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”.

The Salvation Army adopted the hymn as its favored processional.

Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met in the battleship HMS Prince of Wales inn 1914 to agree on the Atlantic Charter.  There a church service was held and “Onward, Christian Soldiers” was selected by Churchill.  Later, he explained his decision on a radio broadcast:

We sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers" indeed, and I felt that this was no vain presumption, but that we had the right to feel that we serving a cause for the sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high. When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of fighting men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental laws, of the same ideals ... it swept across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving the world from measureless degradation.

The hymns was removed from the Methodist hymnal briefly due to its association with the military.  Due to outrage among the populous, it was re-added.

“Onward, Christian Soldiers” was used during civil rights movement and is associated with protesting against the established order.

Lauren Morrow, MT-BC

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