LEAD ON, O KING ETERNAL
Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1862–1917
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8)
One of the thrilling experiences in life is to watch a loved one or friend walk across a stage in cap and gown and receive that long awaited diploma. Today’s hymn was written for just such an event.
Ernest Shurtleff, author of this text, was about to graduate from Andover Seminary in 1887. His classmates at the seminary, recognizing the poetic ability of their colleague, shortly before graduation one day approached Shurtleff with this request:
“Ernest, why don’t you write our class poem. After all, you have already published two volumes of poetry—What’s the use of having a distinguished author in the class if he cannot rise to the occasion and do his class the honor of writing a good poem just for them?”
“Let’s make it a hymn that we can all sing,” replied Shurtleff, “We’ve been spending days of preparation here at seminary. Now the day of march has come and we must go out to follow the leadership of the King of kings, to conquer the world under His banner.”
Although the metaphors and expressions in this hymn were intended to challenge the graduating class of 1887 at Andover Seminary, the truths of this text can be applied to our lives today. This is not the time for any of us to slacken our efforts in the service of our Lord. The crown awaits the conquest—“Lead on, O God of Might!”
Lead on, O King Eternal, the day of march has come! Henceforth in fields of conquest Thy tents shall be our home. Thru days of preparation Thy grace has made us strong, and now, O King Eternal, we lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King Eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease; and holiness shall whisper the sweet Amen of peace; for not with swords loud clashing nor roll of stirring drums, with deeds of love and mercy the heav’nly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King Eternal, we follow, not with fears; for gladness breaks like morning where’er Thy face appears. Thy cross is lifted o’er us; we journey in its light: The crown awaits the conquest—lead on, O God of might.
For Today: Psalm 25:4, 9, 10; Isaiah 48:17; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 1:27–30
Ask God to lead you to greater spiritual conquests than you have yet known and to enable you to win the victory “with deeds of love and mercy.” Carry these musical truths with you—