Soldiers of Christ, arise

Hymn #552
Text: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Music: Isaac Smith (c.1725-c.1800)



As typically sung, and as presented in our Hymnal, this hymn presents only a fraction of a long poem by Charles Wesley. First published in Wesley’s Hymns and Sacred Poems (1749), it was called “The Whole Armour of God” and presents a poetic expansion of the exhortation from St. Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. Wesley presented his hymn in eight-line stanzas; each stanza in our Hymnal contains half a stanza from the original. Below is the complete hymn, with the lines which appear in our Hymnal reproduced in bold.

Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Thro’ his eternal Son;
Strong in the Lord of hosts,
And in his mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror. 

Stand then in his great might,
With all his strength endu’d,
And take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God;
That having all things done,
And all your conflicts past,
Ye may o’ercome thro’ Christ alone,
And stand entire at last. 

Stand then against your foes,
In close and firm array:
Legions of wily fiends oppose
Throughout the evil day;
But meet the sons of night,
But mock their vain design,
Arm’d in the arms of heavenly light,
Of righteousness divine. 

Leave no unguarded place,
No weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace,
And fortify the whole;
Indissolubly join’d,
To battle all proceed;
But arm yourselves with all the mind
That was in Christ your head. 

Let truth the girdle be,
That binds your armour on,
In faithful, firm sincerity
To Jesus cleave alone.
Let faith and love combine
To guard your valiant breast:
The plate be righteousness divine,
Imputed, and imprest. 

Still let your feet be shod,
Ready his will to do,
Ready in all the ways of God
His glory to pursue:
Ruin is spread beneath,
The gospel greaves put on,
And safe thro’ all the snares of death
To life eternal run. 

But above all, lay hold
On faith’s victorious shield,
Arm’d with that adamant, and gold,
Be sure to win the field;
If faith surround your heart,
Satan shall be subdued;
Repell’d his every fiery dart,
And quench’d with Jesu’s blood. 

Jesus hath died for you!
What can his love withstand?
Believe; hold fast your shield; and who
Shall pluck you from his hand?
Believe, that Jesus reigns,
All power to him is given;
Believe, ’till freed from sin’s remains,
Believe yourselves to heaven. 

Your Rock can never shake:
Hither, he saith, come up!
The helmet of salvation take,
The confidence of hope:
Hope for his perfect love,
Hope for his people’s rest,
Hope to sit down with Christ above,
And share the marriage feast. 

Brandish in faith ’till then
The Spirit’s two-edg’d sword,
Hew all the snares of fiends and men
In pieces with the word;
’Tis written; this applied
Baffles their strength, and art;
Spirit and soul with this divide,
And joints and marrow part. 

To keep your armour bright,
Attend with constant care,
Still walking in your Captain’s sight,
And watching unto prayer;
Ready for all alarms,
Stedfastly set your face,
And always exercise your arms,
And use your every grace. 

Pray, without ceasing pray,
(Your Captain gives the word)
His summons chearfully obey,
And call upon the Lord;
To God your every want
In instant prayer display,
Pray always; pray, and never faint,
Pray, without ceasing pray.

In fellowship; alone,
To God with faith draw near,
Approach his courts, besiege his throne
With all the powers of prayer:
Go to his temple, go,
Nor from his altar move;
Let every house his worship know,
And every heart his love. 

To God your spirits dart,
Your souls in words declare,
Or groan, to him who reads the heart,
Th’ unutterable prayer.
His mercy now implore,
And now shew forth his praise,
In shouts, or silent awe,
adore His miracles of grace. 

Pour out your souls to God,
And bow them with your knees,
And spread your hearts and hands abroad,
And pray for Sion’s peace;
Your guides, and brethren, bear
Forever on your mind;
Extend the arms of mighty prayer,
Ingrasping all mankind. 

From strength to strength go on,
Wrestle, and fight, and pray,
Tread all the powers of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day;
Still let the Spirit cry
In all his soldiers, “Come,”
’Till Christ the Lord descends from high,
And takes the conqu’rors home.


This tune’s composer, Isaac Smith, served as the precentor (i.e., the song-leader) of the non-conformist Alie Street Meeting House in London. He is said to have been the first person to be paid for providing such service to his congregation. He also published several editions of a collection of psalm and hymn tunes. In the 1788 edition he wrote: “It is much to be wished that every congregation would appoint an hour or two some evening every week to practice such tunes as may be thought to be proper. By that means the mistakes of those who sing out of tune or out of time will easily be corrected.”

Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of this hymn on piano.