The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Son Of God Goes Forth To War

For St. Stephen's Day

Words: Bishop Reginald Heber

Music: Rev. R. F. Smith
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Source: Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #94

1. The Son of God goes forth to war,
A Kingly Crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar,
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink His cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears His Cross below,
He follows in His train.

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A Kingly Crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar,
Who follows in His train?

2. The martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave,
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.
Like Him, with pardon on his tongue
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong;
Who follows in his train? Chorus

3. A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came,
Twelve valiant Saints, their hope they knew
And mocked the Cross and flame.
They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
The lion's gory mane,
They bowed their necks, the death to feel:
Who follows in their train? Chorus

4. A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Saviour's Throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.
They climbed the steep ascent of Heaven,
Through peril, toil, and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given
To follow in their train! Chorus

Sheet Music from Chope

Sheet Music from William Sterndale Bennett and Otto Goldschmidt, eds., The Chorale Book For England. Congregational Edition. (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1863, Supp. 1865), #222.

Sheet Music "St. Anne" by W. Croft from Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), #313.

Sheet Music "All Saints" by Henry S. Cutler, 1872, from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #277.
Meter: CMD

This version omits the chorus.


Saint Stephen's feast day is December 26. Other hymns and carols for St. Stephen: Hymns to St Stephen. Saint Stephen was among the first seven deacons and was the first martyr. See the book of Acts, Chapters 6 and 7, and this biography of St. Stephen from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

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