Lead on, O King Eternal

Representative Text

1 Lead on, O King eternal,
the day of march has come;
henceforth in fields of conquest
your tents will be our home.
Through days of preparation
your grace has made us strong;
and now, O King eternal,
we lift our battle song.

2 Lead on, O King eternal,
till sin's fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper
the sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords' loud clashing
or roll of stirring drums
with deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.

3 Lead on, O King eternal;
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where'er your face appears.
Your cross is lifted o'er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might.

Psalter Hymnal, (Gray)

Author: Ernest W. Shurtleff

Shurtleff, Ernest Warburton, b. at Boston, Mass., April 4, 1862, and educated at Boston Latin School, Harvard University, and Andover Theo. Seminary (1887). Entering the Congregational Ministry, he was Pastor at Palmer and Plymouth, Mass., and is now (1905) Minister of First Church, Minneapolis, Minn. His works include Poems, 1883, Easter Gleams, 1883, and others. His hymn, "Lead on, O King Eternal" (Christian Warfare), was written as a parting hymn to his class of fellow students at Andover, and was included in Hymns of the Faith, Boston, 1887. It has since appeared in several collections. [M. C. Hazard, Ph.D]. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)  Go to person page >


Scripture References: st. 1 = Eph. 6:10 st. 2 = Luke 4:18-19, Isa.61:1-2 st. 3 = 2 Tim. 4:7-8 With the encouragement of his fellow graduating classmates, Ernest W. Shurtleff (Boston, MA, 1862; d. Paris, France, 1917) wrote this text in 1887 for Andover Theological Seminary's commencement ceremonies. Winning immediate acclaim, the text was published in Shurtleff's Hymns of the Faith that same year. Since that publication it has appeared in many American hymnals. Graduation is one milestone on our life's journey, a road sign that points to the future as much as it marks the end of formal education. Consequently, "Lead On, O King Eternal" is a battle call to go forward in Christian service. Initially laced with war imagery, the text moves on to biblical imagery-"deeds of love and mercy"-and concludes with a note of eschatological hope. This message is as urgent today as it was a hundred years ago. Before studying at Andover, Shurtleff attended Harvard University. He served Congregational churches in Ventura, California; Old Plymouth, Massachusetts; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, before moving to Europe. In 1905 he established the American Church in Frankfurt, and in 1906 he moved to Paris, where he was involved in student ministry at the Academy Vitti. During World War I he and his wife were active in refugee relief work in Paris. Shurtleff wrote a number of books, including Poems (1883), Easter Gleams (1885), Song of Hope (1886), and Song on the Waters (1913). Liturgical Use: A fine recessional hymn; appropriate many other times of worship, including ordination/ commissioning, church education graduations, and occasions that mark the beginning of a church program. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook



Henry T. Smart (PHH 233) composed the tune in 1835 for use at a missions festival at Blackburn, Lancashire, England. For that festival, which celebrated the three-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in England, the tune was set to Reginald Heber's (PHH 249) “From Greenland's Icy Mountains.”…

Go to tune page >



You have access to this FlexScore.
Are parts of this score outside of your desired range? Try transposing this FlexScore.
General Settings
Stanza Selection
Voice Selection
Text size:
Music size:
Transpose (Half Steps):
Contacting server...
Contacting server...

Questions? Check out the FAQ

A separate copy of this score must be purchased for each choir member. If this score will be projected or included in a bulletin, usage must be reported to a licensing agent (e.g. CCLI, OneLicense, etc).

This is a preview of your FlexScore.
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #621
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
The Cyber Hymnal #3617
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #555
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (XML)
  • Full Score (XML)
  • Bulletin Score (XML)
The United Methodist Hymnal #580
  • Bulletin Score (PDF)
  • Full Score (PDF)
  • Bulletin Score (melody only) (PDF)
Worship and Rejoice #508


Instances (1 - 36 of 36)

African American Heritage Hymnal #477

Ambassador Hymnal #451

TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Baptist Hymnal 1991 #621


Baptist Hymnal 2008 #659

TextPage Scan

Celebrating Grace Hymnal #63

TextPage Scan

Chalice Hymnal #632

Church Hymnal, Mennonite #598

TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Evangelical Lutheran Worship #805

Text InfoTextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Glory to God #269

TextFlexscorePage Scan

Hymnal 1982 #555


Hymns for a Pilgrim People #451

TextPage Scan

Hymns of Faith #459

Hymns of the Saints #374

TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Lift Up Your Hearts #328

TextPage Scan

Moravian Book of Worship #753

Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #460

TextPage Scan

Presbyterian Hymnal #447

TextPage Scan

Presbyterian Hymnal #448

Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #555

Rejoice Hymns #140


Rejoice in the Lord #423

TextPage Scan

Renew! Songs and Hymns for Blended Worship #298

TextPage Scan

Sing Joyfully #513

TextPage Scan

The Celebration Hymnal #724

The Covenant Hymnal #429


The Cyber Hymnal #3617

TextPage Scan

The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #483

The New Century Hymnal #573

The New National Baptist Hymnal #397

TextPage Scan

The New National Baptist Hymnal (21st Century Edition) #415

TextFlexscoreAudioPage Scan

The United Methodist Hymnal #580

TextPage Scan

The Worshiping Church #747

TextPage Scan

Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #580

TextPage Scan

Trinity Psalter Hymnal #544

Welsh and English Hymns and Anthems #83b

TextScoreAudioPage Scan

Worship and Rejoice #508

Include 315 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us