Not Just a Song for Kids


I first sang Onward Christian Soldiers as a small child, and we marched as we sang it, so I wasn’t surprised to see that Sabine Baring-Gould actually wrote it as a marching song. I was surprised to see that this hymn was sung at Dwight Eisenhower’s funeral, but then I got to thinking about how it could apply to adults. If Eisenhower picked the hymn himself, I think I might know why.

I have a lot more experience with the need to put on the whole armor of God than I did when I was a child. And as Paul told Timothy, we need to endure hardship like a good soldier for Jesus and to try and please our Commanding Officer. So, although the words I sang today in church are the same as the ones I so enjoyed marching to as a child, their meaning is much deeper for me.

Eisenhower must have felt the same way. According to the Institute for Creation Research:

Eisenhower insisted that God had often intervened in response to his prayers. For example, he believed the numerous contingencies that all worked together in his life to allow him to destroy fascism and Nazism were not a result of chance, but rather God’s will. Eisenhower strongly believed that God was with him in his battle against “Hitler and all that he stood for” (Eisenhower, 1967, p. 52).

Like I said, Baring-Gould may have written this song for kids, and no doubt it still appeals to them. But for some of us, its meaning goes much deeper.

Onward Christian Soldiers

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!








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.








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.








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.








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.








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.







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