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 name of Jesus
  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 faith and Spirit,
  One eternally.
Crowns and thrones may perish,
  Kingdoms rise and wane;
But the Church of Jesus
  Constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never
  'Gainst the Church prevail;
We have Christ's own promise,
  Which can never 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.
Robert C. Bakewell

San Francisco, CA, United States

I grew up High Anglican in Canada during the 1950’s. Our church elders, including many women, were truly of the Victorian and Edwardian era.

Onward Christian Soldiers may have been the most popular hymn, belted out with gusto by our small rural Congregation ..

Stella or Louie, both organists in their mid 70’s thru themselves into it.

I had goose bumps and my Grandmother smiled.

Even Ernie, an English atheist and WW1 veteran , stood for Onward Christian Soldiers. This a warm memory but I can’t imagine singing this in public now!!

Crusade - like fer sure.

Doug Sargent

Keego Harbor, MI, United States

To each their own. I grew up in a low Episcopal church outside NYC. This hymn rubbed me the wrong way from the earliest age. Something about going to war for Christ that reminded me of the Crusades.

I'd rather sing Morning Has Broken.

May Brain

Rochford, Essex, United Kingdom

How sad that a church in England banned the singing of this hymn in 2017 at their remembrance service in case it offended non Christians! The sooner everybody agrees to accept everybody else as they are, the better our world will be.

John Wood

Montgomery, Texas, United States

I sang this song in the hospital in 1985. It was a real war, and it turned out victory.


Frederick, MD, United States

I remember singing this song in the United Methodist Church in Liberia where I grew up. It was used a lot for funeral possessions. As I reflected on 2020 the Lord brought this song to mind. The battle must continue with Christ leading the way. Praise is how we fight our battles

Onfina Pinseau

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

I learned this hymn when I was in they Episcopal School in Tela, Atlántida, a small Town on they North coast of Honduras. I was about 7 or 8 and now I'm 70, and I still feel that enthusiasm as when I was a little girl. I love thee God.

Gabriel Mwangi

Nairobi, Kenya

This song is amazing and compels one to rise up and defend our Christian Faith knowing that God goes before us and Christ leads the charge..

Best version in my opinion is the Celebration Choir Version

Medad Birungi

Kampala, Uganda

This is a terrific song. Very encouraging and uplifting. The words are rich and with sound theology. We bless the Lord

Henrich Brockhaus

Bellingham, WA, United States

If you like to read more about Baring-Gould go to Steve Miller, June 6, 2013

Ana Lara

United States

Baring-Gould was a gifted preacher-literary man of the nineteenth century. He was an ordained Anglican minister and a noted writer. Eighty-five of his books were published of various genre. The British Museum has more of his titles than any other. However Sabine is best remembered for this hymn written in 1865.

Baring-Gould left an account regarding the writing of this hymn:

“It was written in a very simple fashion, without the thought of publication. Whitmonday is a great day for school festivals in Yorkshire, and one Whitmonday it was arranged that our school 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 to write something myself. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ was the result. It was written in great haste. ”

Thirty years later Baring-Gould remarks:

“It was written in great haste, and I am afraid that some of the rhymes are faulty. I am certain that nothing has surprised me more than its popularity. ”

Two verses which are not found in most hymnals are:

“Crowns and throne may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,

But the Church of Jesus constant will remain;

Gates of hell can never ‘gainst the Church prevail;

We have Christ’s own promise and that cannot fail. ”

“What the saints established that I hold for true

What the saints believed in that I believe too.

Long as earth endureth men that faith will hold

Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled. ”

Baring-Gould’s hymn was first sung to Haydn’s Symphony in D, No. 15. The present tune “St. Gertrude, ” written by Sir Arthur S. Sullivan, was composed six years after the writing of this text.

Sullivan, born in Bolwell Terrace, Lambeth, England, on May 13, 1842, was an acclaimed organist and composer. This tune was written in the home of Mrs. Gertrude Clay-Ker-Seymer in Dorchester, England, and the tune is known as “St. Gertrude” to this day.

The present version of this hymn was first published in America in John R. Sweney’s “ Gems of Praise, ” by the Methodist Episcopal Book Room in Philadelphia, 1873.

Sabine Baring-Goul lived to be ninety-nine years old. Sabine died in 1924, but his hurriedly written “Onward Christian Soldiers” is still sung by believers today.

Paul continues, "To walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love, being diligent to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace" (vv. 1b-3). Whenever we talk about the practice of the church life, we must remember that the first thing needed is to keep the oneness of the Spirit. This requires that we forget about everything else. The third stanza of the traditional hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" says, "One in hope and doctrine, one in charity." This is not an accurate concept. Christians can never be one in doctrine. If someone has a certain understanding about a particular portion of the Bible, he may hold to that portion without caring for the oneness. Many Christians insist on baptism by sprinkling, some insist on a single immersion, and some insist on three immersions. Some immerse in warm water, others immerse in cold water, and still others baptize in other ways. In this one matter alone there are many opinions. In order to realize the church life we need to forget about doctrine. If we pay attention to doctrine, we may become a "three-immersions" church. Praise the Lord, the Spirit is in you and in me, so we all are one in the Spirit. Therefore, it is better to sing the above line as, "One in faith and Spirit, / One eternally" (Hymns, #871).