The Son of God goes forth to war

Representative Text

1 The Son of God goes forth to war,
a kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar!
Who follows in his train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
triumphant over pain,
who patient bears his cross below,
he follows in His train.

2 The martyr first, whose eagle eye
could pierce beyond the grave;
who saw his Master in the sky
and called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on His tongue
in midst of mortal pain,
he prayed for them that did the wrong!
Who follows in His train?

3 A glorious band, the chosen few
on whom the Spirit came,
twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
and mocked the cross and flame.
They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
the lion's gory mane;
they bowed their necks the death to feel:
who follows in their train?

4 A noble army, men and boys,
the matron and the maid,
around the Savior's throne rejoice
in robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of heav'n
through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be giv'n
to follow in their train.

Source: Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #429

Author: Reginald Heber

Reginald Heber was born in 1783 into a wealthy, educated family. He was a bright youth, translating a Latin classic into English verse by the time he was seven, entering Oxford at 17, and winning two awards for his poetry during his time there. After his graduation he became rector of his father's church in the village of Hodnet near Shrewsbury in the west of England where he remained for 16 years. He was appointed Bishop of Calcutta in 1823 and worked tirelessly for three years until the weather and travel took its toll on his health and he died of a stroke. Most of his 57 hymns, which include "Holy, Holy, Holy," are still in use today. -- Greg Scheer, 1995… Go to person page >


The Son of God goes forth to war. Bishop R. Heber. [St. Stephen.] Published in his posthumous Hymns, &c. 1827, p. 17, in 8 stanzas of 4 lines. It is usually given in an unaltered form as in the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Church Hymns, 1871, and is often accompanied by a fine musical setting as in the same hymnal.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



Henry Stephen Cutler (b. Boston, MA, 1824; d. Boston, 1902) composed ALL SAINTS NEW in 1872 for Reginald Heber's (PHH 249) text "The Son of God Goes Forth to War," and the two were published together in Hymnal with Tunes, Old and New (1872). That text refers to "the glorious band" of God's people, h…

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