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There's a Hymn Writer in My Ancestry!

I am blessed with a mom who has made it her passion to research our family's geneology.  Through, she actually became close with a cousin that she knew of, but never officially met.  Through that relationship they came upon another relative who had done extensive research into my mother's father's ancestry.

Well last week I found out some incredibly exciting news!  The writer of the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers is one of my ancestors!   This thrilled me beyond belief!

His name is Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould who lived from 1834-1924.   There is actually a biography about his life called Beyond the Christian Soldier by Samuel J. Rogal.  Wikepedia says of Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, that he was of Lew Trenchard in Devon, England, where he was an Anglican priest, hagiographer, antiquarian, novelist, folk song collector and eclectic scholar. His bibliography consists of more than 1240 publications.

I intend to read this book!  lol.

Barnes & Noble says of Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, when introducing a book he wrote called In the Roar of the Sea, that he had a "voracious and wide-ranging intellect" which led to the publication of over 1000 books and collections in various genres ranging from fiction to folklore.  In the Roar of the Sea is a novel that follows the travails of the Trevisa family as they struggle to navigate the aftermath of a tragedy."

Tim Challies wrote the following about the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers:

"Onward, Christian Soldiers” was written in 1865 with no intention of ever being published, especially in adult hymn books. Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, its author, was at that time the curate of a parish in Yorkshire county in the north of England, and he recounts how and why he wrote it:

"It was written in a very simple fashion … Whitmonday is a great day for school festivals in Yorkshire, and one Whitmonday it was arranged that our school should join its forces with that of a neighboring village. I wanted the children to sing when marching from one village to the other, but couldn’t think of anything quite suitable, so I sat up at night resolved to write something myself. “Onward, Christian Soldiers” was the result. It was written in great haste, and I am afraid some of the rhymes are faulty. Certainly nothing has surprised me more than its great popularity."

Though it was never meant for publication, it was nevertheless found its way into a periodical later that year, and soon it became included in English hymnals around the world. Louis Benson suspects that it caught on in the United States, at least in part, because it tapped into the “soldier-spirit left in the hearts of young and old Americans by the four years of the Civil War” which had just ended."

Isn't that interesting!

I first began singing this hymn as a new Believer and found it so powerful.  Now it holds a very special place in my heart.  :-)

Onward Christian Soldiers
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!
Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never ’gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.


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  1. That is great. Here we have the Dutch variant:




  2. Oh, how NEAT!!!! What a wonderful discovery!! That is just so interesting, and I am sure this dear hymn will forever take on a new meaning to you. :) Thank you so much for sharing. Praying for you every day, sweet friend, and sending much love your way!

    1. Hi Cheryl, I know!! And I was watching Little House on the Prairie last night and they sang that hymn in the episode. I was like a little kid I got so excited just thinking that I'm a descendent of the person that wrote a hymn that was sung by those during Little House on the Prairie times as well.

      Thank you so much! I've actually been quite sick with the flu. Today is the first time in seven days that my fever broke. I am still very very weak and very very congested. Your prayers mean everything to me. As soon as I'm strong enough, I will be along to visit your precious blog.

      Sending you so much love and gratitude.

  3. What a wonderful treasure to find this history about your ancestor! I hope that you are able to read some of his writings. I just finished a series on the Legacy of Faith that the Lord showed me within my own family. It is so encouraging to think about the prayers and the trust in God that those who went before us passed down to us--whether we were able to know them or not! Blessings to you!

    1. Bettie, Oh! That's so exciting for you too!

      Yes, it truly is so encouraging. On my dad's side, I found out that I have a circuit rider preacher who was in his family lineage.

      I enjoy your visits so much. Thanks for visiting.

  4. How cool to discover a hymn writer in your ancestry!

    1. Anita, I know! So exciting!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  5. How cool is that?!!! One of my favorite hymns!

    1. Hi Deb, I know!!! :-)

      Glad to hear it!

      Thanks for stopping by.

  6. How interesting! I've been singing that song since childhood. The ancestry stuff is fascinating, isn't it? I wouldn't mind doing that myself and learning more about the legacy of our family. :)

    1. Brenda, Awe. It's such a great song!

      It really is so interesting!

      You should do it! :-)

      Thanks for visiting.

  7. That is awesome. I did a bit of Ancestry when first retired and didn't get very far before my retirement amount wouldn't allow the monthly cost, but it was fun to do. It was interesting to find the different people that I never knew that were researching my grandparents. Who knew? Thanks for sharing. Definitely great also to have books for more information on your ancestor. :)
    Peabea from Sunday Scripture Blessings

    1. Pea Bea, Thanks so much for sharing your own experience with researching your ancestry.

      You are welcome!


      Thanks for stopping by. :-)


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