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“Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus!” “The Story Behind the Hymn” PART II

“Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus!”

“The Story Behind the Hymn”

By

Roger D. Duke ©


Scripture Portions:

Nehemiah 9: 5

“Then the Levites . . . said Stand up and bless the LORD your God for ever and ever; and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise” (KJV).


I Corinthians 16: 13

Stand firm in the faith, be men of courage, be strong” (KJV).






Part II

A Second Use—A Further Look:

A Crook in the Lot


“Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus!” was not originally composed as a patriotic piece to urge men to volunteer for a militaristic campaign. That is where the rub comes as we consider a second historical glance at the hymn’s inception.

There were some major spiritual developments on the East Coast—New York, Philadelphia, and in other sundry places in the mid to late 1850s. It came to be considered a great move of God. In retrospect, it is hard to believe those cities were venues where God’s Holy Spirit would do a great work and men could be converted. The time of God’s visitation came to be known as the Prayer Revival of 1857-58 or the Businessman’s Revival.[1] “Some later historians would call it the Third Great Awakening.” Many business leaders were shaken financially by the recent banking collapse, and spontaneously began meeting together for prayer. It was altogether a lay movement devoid of clergy leadership. “Churches opened at noon each weekday for prayer and Bible study.”[2]

As 1858 dawned, around a dozen men from Philadelphia were meeting for noontime prayer sponsored by the YMCA. They were most disappointed; they had heard of the moving of the Holy Spirit in New York City but had since gone without His touch. But when they took their meetings to a grand new public building known as Jayne’s Hall, their numbers began to multiply exponentially. “In March, all heaven broke loose as hundreds and then thousands streamed in for prayer.”[3]

Immediately prior, Dudley Tyng served as an apprentice minister to his father at Philadelphia’s Church of the Epiphany. He would later be elected pastor when the congregation’s patriarch retired in 1854. The large Episcopal congregation installed Tyng as priest at the ripe old age of 29. And all seemed well for a while—and was. But there was a crook in the lot.[4] The honeymoon between priest and parishioners soon ended abruptly! When Dudley began to espouse abolitionist’s views in sermonic form, “[l]oud complaints rose from the more conservative members” that resulted “in Dudley’s resignation in 1856.”[5]

After Tyng resigned and under his leadership, some friends and followers organized the Church of the Covenant in another location. The message of the Gospel he proclaimed grew until he had a modicum of personal notoriety as preacher and community leader. He soon began a noontime Bible study series also in association with the YMCA. The influence of both ministries had a far-reaching effect beyond the confines of the two respective brick-and-mortar structures. And God had laid an extreme burden on young Dudley to lead husbands and fathers to the Lord Jesus Christ:[6]

On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, five thousand men gathered. As Dudley looked over the sea of faces, he felt overwhelmed. “I would rather this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message,” he told the crowd.

Over a thousand men were converted that day.[7]

Tyng, just four days afterwards, was tragically injured in a farming accident. He was watching a corn-threshing machine work in the barn of the family farm. Inadvertently, “[h]e caught his loose sleeve between the cogs, and his arm was severely torn.” The main artery was cut, and Tyng lost a great deal of blood because of the accident. As “he lay dying, he whispered to his father, “Stand up for Jesus, Father, and tell my brethren of the ministry to stand up for Jesus.”[8]

The Rev. George Duffield of Philadelphia’s Temple Presbyterian Church was deeply moved by Dudley Tyng’s funeral service. So stirred was he, that the following Sunday he preached a rousing “stemwinder” of a sermon from Ephesians 6: 14 about standing firm for Christ.[9] He closed the sermon by reading a newly penned poem. The words were inspired by the testimony of his dying young colleague and friend Dudley Tyng:[10]


Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the Cross!

Lift high his royal banner-it must not suffer loss.

From vic’try unto vic’try His army shall he lead,

‘Till ev’ry foe is vanquished and Christ is Lore indeed.


Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey:

Forth to the mighty conflict in this His glorious day.

Ye that are men now serve Him against unnumbered foes;

Let courage rise with danger and strength to strength oppose.


Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the stife will not be long;

This day the noise of battle—the next the victor’s song.

To him who overcometh a crown of life shall be;

He with the King of glory shall reign eternally.[11]


When one hymnal editor heard the poem, he immediately found appropriate music and published “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus.” Since that time, it became one of America’s favorite hymns. Dudley Tyng’s dying words became his personal testimony to millions immortalized in the words penned by Duffield.[12]

Closing Observations for Thought

First, the incident that spawned the inspiration of one of America’s favorite all-time hymns was the testimony of a young man who loved Christ, wanted to see souls redeemed, and somewhat prophesied his own demise. Consider that.

Secondly, as the circumstances of history tragically changed over a few short years, the words of the hymn took on a completely different application. This was accomplished by the author. When once the hymn was a spiritualized metaphor, calling men to take their spiritual stand for the Lord Jesus Christ; then it was used to call them to a literal stand to fight in the armies of the Union. Consider that.

Third, compare the new two eras when the song was popularized and how the lyrics were applied in each time frame venue. Consider that.

Fourth, it seems, the hymn “Stand up! Stand Up for Jesus!” encapsulates some of the ironies of this saga of Christ’s church and our beloved country during the Civil War era. Consider that.

These are only cursory observations. The reader is left to their own thoughts, preponderances, and conclusions. But now you can better understand “The Story Behind the Hymn.” [1] Jennifer A. Miskov, “The Prayer Meeting Revival of 1857-59,” Jen Miskov Ministries, retrieved July 20, 2022 from https://jenmiskov.com/blog//the-prayer-meeting-revival-of-1857-59

[2] Randy Peterson, Be Still My Soul: The Inspiring Stories Behind 175 of the Most-Loved Hymns (Carol Stream, Il., 2014), 301. [3] Peterson, Be Still My Soul, 301. [4]Thomas Watson, The Crook in the Lot: The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God, in the Afflictions of Men Displayed. (Banner of Truth Trust). Thomas Boston (1676-1732) was a remarkable Scottish theologian and pastor. His Works run to 12 volumes and contain some lengthy theological treatises. But Boston also wrote brief, very accessible, and pastoral books, and chief among these is the quaintly titled, The Crook in the Lot: The Sovereignty and Wisdom of God, in the Afflictions of Men Displayed. This little book is a pastoral masterpiece, in which Boston reflects on the words of Ecclesiastes 7:13, “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked?” [5] Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 115. [6] Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, 115. [7] Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, 115. [8] William J. Peterson & Ardythe Peterson, The Complete Book of Hymns: Inspiring Stories about 600 Hymns and Praise Songs (Carol Stream, Il.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2006), 188-89. [9] Morgan, Then Sings My Soul, 115. [10] Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions, 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002), 298. [11] Osbeck, Amazing Grace, 298. [12] Robert J. Morgan, Then Sings My Soul: 150 Christmas, Easter, and All-Time Favorite Hymn Stories, sp. ed., (Nashville: W Publishing Group—An Imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2003), 183.

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