Monday, February 15, 2010

Hold On

In a comment on another blog that I participate in, Kingdom Bloggers, someone wrote that I had a rich Christian heritage. I suppose part of that heritage is my knowledge of hymns or perhaps more correctly gospel songs.

I love hymns. I don’t necessarily want to go to a church that has a steady diet of hymns. I rather like all the new stuff.  I understand why the hymns are taking a backseat. Yet it seems I return to the hymns often.

I’ll think of a random hymn and won’t be able to get it out of head. I’ll find it on YouTube or elsewhere on the internet. Sometimes I’ll play it over and over and over again. I fear this means I am old.

I guess it is a bit of nostalgia.  I also think it is that the hymns and gospel songs have a lot of theology in them. Today, unexpectedly, what is probably now an obscure gospel song came to mind.

Hold the Fort for I am Coming
It dates to just after the Civil War. It’s inspiration came from that war. I found an interesting history of the song; you can see it here. Evidently, the song has been used for a variety of purposes. I found this more comprehensive history of the song here.

Since I am guess you have never heard it, here are the words:

Ho, my comrades! see the signal waving in the sky!

Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;

Wave the answer back to Heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”

See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on;

Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!

See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow!

In our Leader’s Name we triumph over ev’ry foe.

Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near;

Onward comes our great Commander, cheer, my comrades, cheer!


There are no videos of this song on YouTube but you can hear a midi-version of it here.

As I was driving to the store, here comes this song in my head. I started singing it. I couldn’t get it out of my head.  

When I was a child and this song would be sung, the congregation would get their handkerchiefs out.  Almost everyone carried them back then. When you got to the part where you were waving the answer back to heaven, you’d wave your handkerchief. If you didn’t have one, you’d raise your hand. Sometimes when we’d declare that by His grace we will, both hands would be raised. You have to understand this was a lot of action for a bunch of Norwegians.

There are so many times I feel so besieged. I get so weary of the battle of life. Nevertheless, by God’s grace I am still standing. I wave my answer back to heaven in the form of a prayer – only by Your grace God.

This song was not just inspired by the Civil War. It’s true inspiration comes from words in red in the Scriptures.  It comes from that book at the end of the canon. It comes from Revelation 2:25 where the spirit says to the church in Thyatira:
Just hold on to what you have until I come
 Holding on, sometimes that is all you can do. Another song floats in my head as I write this, a hymn that seems to answer our answer and cry for grace:


  1. A rich Christian heritage is all the things that God has done, all the worship, the Bible study and the intimate moments that we've had: stored in our spirit and mind for another moment. Like the bowls of prayers described in Reveltion 5:8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

    Imagine the release of prayers previously unanswered? God's Kingdom is the constant release of creative power without end.

  2. Thanks for your reminiscences about the gospel song "Hold the Fort." And you're right, there's a lot of doctrinal and devotional depth in our traditional hymnody that is missing in many of the contemporary songs. Philip Bliss did not consider this one of his better ones, but it has been identified with him, and a reference is made to it on his tombstone.

    I notice you link folks to the "Cyber Hymnal." I'd like to encourage you to use the original. I started assisting Dick Adams with his work on creating the Cyber Hymnal about 14 years ago. Then, someone came along, and without his permission, simply lifted all his material and started another site. Dick retained his original title, but was forced to change his URL. The address of the original is now...

    (You can tell the difference immediately. There is no advertising on Dick Adams's site.)

    Further, if you enjoy reading about our hymns and their authors, I invite you to check out my own daily blog on the subject, Wordwise Hymns.

    And if you’ll excuse a brief “commercial” to end this ramble: With the arrival of fall, we begin to think of the Christmas season up ahead. If you do not have a good book on the subject of our Christmas carols, I encourage you to take a look at mine, Discovering the Songs of Christmas. In it, I discuss the history and meaning of 63 carols and Christmas hymns. The book is available through Amazon, or directly from Jebaire Publishing. (Might make a great gift too!)


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