The years before, during, and after the Civil War in this country were not only years of great conflict, but also of great spiritual revival, both in the North and the South. Philadelphia Pastor Dudley Tyng was deeply involved in both the conflict and the revival. He served as his father’s assistant at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in the early 1850’s, and then in 1854, when his father retired, he was called to be the church’s senior pastor. It seemed like a great fit, but before long the trouble started. Pastor Tyng was an abolitionist, and preached vigorously against slavery. This was the North where there were no slaves, but many in his congregation were ready to allow slavery to exist and even expand in the rest of the country, rather than risk conflict– and they did not want to hear about it from the pulpit. There were loud complaints against Tyng, and in 1856, after just two years as senior pastor, he was forced to resign. He was forced out because his faith in Jesus had inspired him to take a stand against slavery.
Tyng went out and started his own church elsewhere in the city, the Church of the Covenant. There he preached freely and powerfully, and his reputation grew. In that time of spiritual revival Pastor Tyng promoted large meetings for young men and fathers, similar to the “Promise Keeper Rallies” of a few years ago.
One of the largest of these rallies was held on March 30, 1858. Five thousand men were gathered, and by the end of the rally over a thousand men had come forward to give their lives to Christ. Dudley Tyng was at the peak of his career, and his success made him only bolder in his fearless preaching. At one point during that March 30th rally he said he would not compromise or hold back on preaching the Word, adding, “I would rather lose my right arm than come short of my duty to you in delivering the whole Word of God.”
A week later, while studying in his home office, Pastor Tyng took a break. He walked over to a nearby farm. Out in the barnyard was a mule walking round and round, hitched up to a wheel that ran a machine that shelled corn. Tyng reached out to pat the mule, and his sleeve got caught in the wheel cogs. His arm was ripped from its socket and a main artery was severed. Four days later, the arm was amputated in hopes of saving his life. But the injury was too severe, and it became clear that he would not live.
At his son’s deathbed, his father asked him if he had any final message for his colleagues in the ministry. Dudley Tung’s last words to them were his most memorable. He said, “Tell my brethren in the ministry, wherever you meet them, to stand up for Jesus.”
This message was relayed at Tyng’s funeral. One of the ministers at the funeral was Tyng’s friend, Rev. George Duffield of Philadelphia’s Temple Presbyterian Church. Duffield was inspired by his friend’s last words, and he wrote a little poem that he read at the end of his sermon two weeks later. The sermon was on Ephesians 6:14. That poem was put to music and soon became the popular hymn “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”
This hymn that has inspired the faith and service of so many, was written in memory of a man who was always ready to stand up for what he believed, and yet, the hymn is filled with words of dependence not on self but on God. A few of the words in verse two are especially interesting. No doubt with Tyng in mind, Duffield wrote, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;” and then, “The arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own.” The ‘arm of flesh will fail you’ image was more than a symbol in the life and death of Dudley Tyng. Duffield probably also had in friend in mind when he wrote the last verse, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long.” For Tyng, the strife of this life was ended when he was only 33 years old.
Ephesians 6:13-15 — Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
1 Corinthians 15:18 — Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 — So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
James 5:8 — You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;
They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.