Hymnspiration: Stand Up! Stand Up For Jesus!

DudleyTyngThe story of this hymn, the words penned by Reverend George Duffield, Jr., arose out of tragic circumstances.  The person who inspired the hymn was Reverend Dudley Atkins Tyng.

Dudley Tyng was born in 1825 to parents Stephen Higginson and Anne (Griswold) Tyng.  His father Stephen was a prominent minister and leader in the evangelical movement within the Episcopal Church.  In 1829 Stephen Tyng moved with his family to Philadelphia to become the Rector of St. Paul’s.  In 1832 Anne Tyng died and in 1834 Stephen became Rector of the Church of the Epiphany.

At the age of 14, Dudley entered the University of Pennsylvania and in 1841 he was converted.  In 1843 Dudley graduated with honors and then proceeded to the Theological Seminary in Virginia.  Following a succession of pastoral appointments, Dudley returned to Philadelphia and became Rector of the Church of the Epiphany where his father had once served.

Perhaps the church believed Dudley would be like his much-beloved father, but Dudley was cut from a different cloth and focused on the issues of the day.  As a committed abolitionist, he was quite vocal in his views regarding the issue of slavery.  On June 26, 1856 he delivered a sermon, entitled “Our Country’s Troubles”, decrying the blood already spilled, both in the Senate chamber when Senator Charles Sumner was attacked by Senator Preston Brooks and the bloodshed in Kansas which became known as “Bloody Kansas”.

Later that year Dudley Tyng was forced to resign due to his strong abolitionist leanings.  Accompanied by a group of loyal followers, he founded the Church of the Covenant.  By 1858 a revival was occurring in Philadelphia, sparked by mid-day prayer meetings at the YMCA which were led by Dudley.  George Duffield, Jr., a Presbyterian minister, was one of his close friends and associates.

One rally was held on March 30, 1858 with five thousand men, fathers and sons, in attendance.  As many as one thousand were said to have been converted that day.  His text was Exodus 10:11 – “Ye that are men, go and serve the Lord.”  So intense was his belief in God and the ministry he was called to, Dudley Tyng declared, “I must tell my Master’s errand, and I would rather that this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.”

Two weeks later on April 13, Dudley was back home on his farm.  He went to the barn where corn was being shelled (by mule-driven machinery).  When he reached out to touch the animal, his sleeve was caught in the machine cogs, severely injuring his arm.  His arm was amputated, and just a few days later he died.

Before Dudley Tyng died, he was asked for his parting words.  He first answered, “Not now; I am too much exhausted.”  After a few moments he opened his eyes and declared loudly and distinctly, “Now father, I am ready.  Father, stand up for Jesus.  Tell them, let us all stand up for Jesus.  Let us all stand in Christ Jesus in prayer; accepted in Christ, having no other claims than his righteousness, that Christ may be glorified forever.”  (Stand Up For Jesus! – A Christian Ballad, p. 17).  Those were the final words spoken by Dudley Atkins Tyng, and shortly afterwards he passed away on April 19, 1858.

GeorgeDuffieldJrHis friend George Duffield, Jr. delivered a sermon the next Sabbath day, preaching from the text of Ephesians 6:14 – “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.”  To close his sermon, he read a six stanza poem he had written to sum up his message, the poem inspired by his friend Dudley Tyng.  The poem was printed in a Baptist publication and George James Webb would later compose the tune which is still sung today.

StandUpForJesusThe hymn’s popularity began to spread, picked up by various denominational hymn publishers.  It also, like Onward Christian Soldiers, became a popular hymn sung by Civil War soldiers – an anthem.  In 1857 the country was hit with a wave of bankruptcies and business failures.  Between 1857 and 1859 when the economy recovered, businessmen responded by conducting lunchtime prayer meetings.  The movement, widely known as the “Businessmen’s Revival”, was led mostly by laymen and one of the hymns which rallied them was “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”.

The death of Dudley Tyng had a profound effect on those whose lives he had touched.  Many tributes, memorials and eulogies followed.  He was outspoken in his convictions and in the end he would uncannily predict his own demise.  But with the words penned by his friend, his life, legacy and convictions live on today through this great hymn of the Church.  His gravestone stands as a tribute to his dying words.

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Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

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© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.

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