Get your gym membership! Eat lots of protein! Lay off the carbs! Pick up the weights! If you were looking to improve your physical strength, you might try some of these things. The hymn we examine today invites us to a different type of strength. While hymns like Onward Christian Soldiers view the church’s members like a military, this hymn mentions that the Christian’s strength is from God and the power of His Word. Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-18:
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…
The text of Be Strong in the Lord was written by Timothy Dudley-Smith, born in England in 1926. He served as an Anglican priest and bishop from 1951 until his retirement in 1992. He has published around 300 hymn texts; 16 of these texts are included in Lutheran Service Book. Some of the most familiar of these texts are Christ Be My Leader, No Tramp of Soldiers’ Marching Feet, and Christ the Eternal Lord. His poetic vocabulary paints a vivid picture of countless Biblical teachings and events.
The tune LAUDATE DOMINUM was extracted from Sir Hubert Parry’s anthem “Hear My Words, Ye People.” Parry lived from 1848 to 1918 and was one of the initial teachers of the Royal College of Music when it opened in 1883. He also taught music at Oxford University. Parry also wrote the tune for How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord which appears in our hymnal.