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The Christian Church has many stirring rally hymns, but none that is more effective when sung by a large assembly than George Duffield’s “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” Who has not been moved to the depths of his soul by the inspiring words and resounding music of this unusual hymn?

A tragedy lies in its background. It was in the year 1858, and a great spiritual awakening was gripping the city of Philadelphia. Men referred to this revival afterwards as “the work of God in Philadelphia.”

One of the most earnest and zealous leaders in the movement was a young pastor, Dudley A. Tyng, not quite thirty years old. Because of his evangelical convictions and his strong opposition to slavery he had shortly before been compelled to resign as rector of the Church of the Epiphany, and in 1857 he had organized a little congregation that met in a public hall.

In the midst of the revival in 1858 he preached a powerful sermon at a noon-day meeting in Jayne’s Hall to a gathering of 5,000 men. His text was Exodus 10:11: “Go now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord.” It is said that the effect was overwhelming, no less than a thousand men giving themselves to the Lord.

A few weeks later the young pastor was watching a corn-shelling machine when his arm was caught in the machinery and terribly mangled. Though every effort was made to 420 save his life, he died within a few hours. Shortly before the end came he cried to the friends who were gathered about him, “Sing, sing, can you not sing?” He himself then began the words of “Rock of Ages,” with the others trying to join him in the midst of their grief. When his father, the distinguished clergyman, Stephen H. Tyng, bent over him to ask if he had a last message for his friends, the dying soldier of the cross whispered:

“Tell them to stand up for Jesus!”

Rev. George Duffield, also of Philadelphia and a close friend of the greatly lamented Tyng, felt that the words were too impressive to be lost. On the following Sunday he preached a sermon in his own church on Ephesians 6:14, “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” As he concluded his sermon, he read the words of a poem he had written, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.”

Not only did Duffield preserve the dying words of his devoted friend, but it will be noted that the second stanza also contains the challenge of Tyng’s last revival sermon: “Go now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord.”

The superintendent of Duffield’s Sunday school printed the words of the poem for distribution among his scholars. One of these leaflets found its way to a religious periodical, where it was published. Soon it began to appear in hymn-books, being generally set to a tune composed by George J. Webb a few years earlier. It is said that the first time the author heard it sung outside of his own church was in 1864, when the Christian men in the Army of the James sang it in their camp, just before they were about to enter into a bloody battle.


As originally written, the hymn contained six stanzas. The second and fifth are omitted from most hymn-books. These stanzas read:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,

The solemn watchword hear;

If while ye sleep He suffers,

Away with shame and fear;

Where’er ye meet with evil,

Within you or without,

Charge for the God of Battles,

And put the foe to rout.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,

Each soldier to his post:

Close up the broken column,

And shout through all the host:

Make good the loss so heavy,

In those that still remain,

And prove to all around you

That death itself is gain.

The omission of these lines is really no loss, since they sink far beneath the literary level of the remaining verses. They also carry the military imagery to needless length.

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