Yesterday, we looked at a hymn written by Spurgeon, Hymn of the Day: Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands. Today, we look at a very old, like 200 years old, hymn. This hymn can be found under the title Oft in Danger, Oft in Woe or Oft in Sorrow, Oft in Woe. Based on my limited resources, here is what I found on this hymn written by Henry Kirke White.
Much in sorrow, oft in woe. H. K. White. [Christian Soldier encouraged.] In Collyer’s Hymns partly Collected and partly Original, &c, 1812, No. 867, the following lines were given together with the note added thereto:—
”The Christian Soldier encouraged.
1 Tim. vi. 12. H. K. White.
“1. Much in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go,
Fight the fight, and worn with strife,
Steep with tears the bread of life.
“2. Onward, Christians, onward go,
Join the war, and face the foe:
Faint not—much doth yet remain,
Dreary is the long campaign.
“3. Shrink not, Christians—will ye yield ?
Will ye quit the painful field ?
*Fight till all the conflict’s o’er,
Nor your foemen rally more.
“4. But when loud the trumpet blown
Speaks their forces overthrown,
Christ, your Captain, shall bestow
Crowns to grace the conqueror’s brow.”
[*The mutilated state of this hymn, which was written on the back of one of the mathematical papers of this excellent young man, and which came into my hands a mere fragment, rendered it necessary for something to be added—and I am answerable for the last six lines.” ]
In 1827 Mrs. Bethia Fuller-Maitland compiled and published Hymns for Private Devotion, Selected and Original (London, Hatchards). In this work an enlarged form of “Much in sorrow, oft in woe,” made by her daughter Frances Sara Fuller-Maitland, then but 14 years of age, was given as No. 106. White’s stanzas i., ii., iii., ll. 1, 2, were given as above, and the following lines were added thereto:—
Will ye flee in danger’s hour?
Know ye not your Captain’s power? ”
4. Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March in heavenly armour clad:
Fight, nor think the battle long,
Victory soon shall tune your song,”
5. Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall every tear be dry;
Let not woe your course impede,
Great your strength, if great your need,
6. Onward then to battle move,
More than conquerors ye shall prove;
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.”
This text was republished by Mrs. Colquhoun, née Fuller-Maitland, in her Rhymes and Chimes (London, Macmillan), 1876. We may add that of the “original” compositions in the 1827 Hymns for Private Devotion, &c, one was by Miss F. S. Fuller-Maitland, and two others were by her sister Esther.
In his Christian Psalmody, 1833, No. 125, E. Bickersteth gave the White-Fuller-Maitland text in 4 stanzas, with several alterations, the most important being in stanza i., which read:—
“Of in sorrow, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go;
Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
Strengthen’d with the bread of life.”
Another version of the same text was given in Hall’s Mitre Hymn Book, 1836, the opening lines of which are:—
Oft in danger, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go.”
From these four sources H. K. White, 1806; W. B. Collyer, 1812; F. S. Fuller-Maitland, 1827; E. Bickersteth, 1833 ; and W. J. Hall, 1836, the popular modern form of this hymn has been manipulated. In translating the hymn varying texts have been used. Those in Latin are (1) “Ito saepe per dolorem,” by Bingham, in his Hymnologia Christiana Latina, 1871, is from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge Psalms & Hymns, No. 273; and (2) “Vos dolores tolerantes,” by Macgill in his Songs of the Christian Creed and Life, is from the Kirke White Fuller-Maitland version.
–John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
And of course, Indelible Grace has provided their own version, which I enjoy a little more!
1 Peter 5:8-9 (ESV)
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.