Story Behind The Hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”
Written by G Njuguna on September 18, 2022
In the spring of 1858 revival was taking place in Philadelphia. The movement grew out of midday prayer meetings coordinated by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). Rev. Dudley A. Tyng, a young Episcopalian minister, soon came to be recognized as its leader. Though there was some controversy over his anti-slavery preaching, Tyng was known and loved for his zeal for the work of God. Among the interdenominational leaders who gathered around him was the Presbyterian minister George Duffield, Jr.
On Tuesday, April 13th, 1858, Rev. Tyng was studying at his country home when he went to the barn to check on his mule driving a machine that shelled corn. As he patted down the animal, the sleeve of his gown got caught in the cogs of the device, and his arm was severely injured. The arm was soon amputated, the wound became mortal, and Tyng died the following week.
Before he died, however, he was asked by friends if there were any messages he would have them give to those who had participated with him in the revival work. Tyng responded briefly, beginning with the words, “Tell them, ‘Let us all stand up for Jesus.’”
In the days and events following Tyng’s death, these final words were invoked several times and became a resounding exhortation to all who had been affected by his ministry. When George Duffield, Jr. preached to his own congregation the next week, he focused on Ephesians 6:14 (“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…”) and concluded his sermon with a hymn he had written. It began with the line, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus.” Presbyterian and Congregationalist publishers soon picked up the hymn, and it quickly became an established work.
Similar to “Onward Christian Soldiers,” it became popular among soldiers of the Civil War, most likely because of its militaristic imagery and language. But, as we noted with that hymn, the connection to worldly battles was not the author’s intent; Christians have often sung soldier songs, because, as God tells us in Ephesians 6 and elsewhere, our lives in Christ are a fight for faith in the midst of spiritual enemies. We are called to stand in the strength he supplies.