HOLD THE FORT
Words and Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876
Only hold on to what you have until I come. (Revelation 2:25)
God’s call to each believer is to be obedient and faithful—not to seek a life of earthly success. Difficulties and defeats are a normal part of every Christian’s life. Our response to negative situations can either shatter us or they can intensify our perseverance and confidence in a sovereign God. It has been said that a mark of a champion athlete is not how he/she responds to a victory, but how a difficult loss on a previous day has been met.
As was true of so many of Philip P. Bliss’s gospel songs, this stirring hymn was inspired by an illustration used by Major Whittle, an officer in the American Civil War, while addressing a YMCA meeting on the text from Revelation 2:25. Major Whittle’s illustration was about a small Northern force of soldiers in charge of guarding a great quantity of supplies. They were being hard pressed by greatly superior Confederate forces. Finally, the Confederate general, General French, commanded the Federal troops to surrender. At that moment the troops saw a signal from their leader, General Sherman, on a hill some miles away, which said, “Hold the fort, I am coming. Sherman.” The story so captivated Bliss’s interest that he could not retire that evening until he had completed both the text and the music for this rousing gospel song. It later became a great favorite in the Moody-Sankey campaigns both in Great Britain and in the United States.
We too have a commander now in heaven who has promised to return for us. Victory is certain! Our responsibility is to faithfully “hold the fort” and to “occupy till He comes” (Luke 19:13 KJV).
Ho, my comrades, see the signal waving in the sky! Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.
See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on; Mighty men around us falling, courage almost gone!
See the glorious banner waving! Hear the trumpet blow! In our Leader’s name we triumph over ev’ry foe.
Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near; Onward comes our great Commander—cheer, my comrades, cheer!
Chorus: “Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still; wave the answer back to heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”
For Today: Matthew 10:22; Romans 5:3; 2 Timothy 2:10; Hebrews 12:2, 6, 7; James 1:12
Reflect seriously on these lines: “Christ’s cause is hindered everywhere, and people are dying in despair. The reason why? Just think a bit—The church is full of those who quit.” Carry this musical truth with you—