The new song for October in the morning worship services at Central Presbyterian Church is “O Church, Arise.” This is a new hymn by the well-known writers Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, authors of such beloved worship songs as “In Christ Alone,” “Speak, O Lord,” and “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”
During October and November, pastor Eric Stiller is preaching a sermon series through the book of Philippians. The hymn “O Church, Arise” is a helpful hymn to learn during this series since it enables us to sing many important truths from Philippians and to affirm together in song our calling to live as a faithful people.
Paul repeatedly encourages us to rejoice even though we are weak and often find ourselves in circumstances where we are powerless. Paul himself wrote this letter from prison (Philippians 1:7, 17), and yet he is filled with joy (e.g., 1:18; 2:18; 4:10) because he experiences the sustaining power of God who supplies every need (4:19) and strengthens us to do all that he calls us to do (4:13). In verses 1 and 2 of “O Church, Arise,” Getty and Townend apply these truths in song by leading us to sing that “the weak can say that they are strong in the strength that God has given.”
The historical and personal foundation of Paul’s joy and encouragement in Philippians is the victory of God in Jesus Christ. Paul recounts in poetic form how the Son of God became a humble servant in the person of Jesus and submitted to death in order to conquer death. Therefore, Jesus is now exalted as the Savior and King over all creation (2:5–11). In verse 3 of “O Church, Arise” we recount the main lines of this story as we sing of the Son of God who is “stricken” at “the cross where love and mercy meet” and then ascends as the “Conqueror.” As Paul acknowledges that in the future “every tongue should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” so Getty and Townend remind us in song that “every eye and heart shall see him.”
Because of Jesus’ victory, Paul teaches us in Philippians to live “press on toward the the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (3:14). We can do this with hope that to die is gain (1:21) because the God will raise our bodies in glory like Jesus (3:21) and so complete the work of salvation that he has already begun in us (1:6). By singing “O Church, Arise,” we remind one another with this hope: “when faced with trials on every side, we know the outcome is secure.” Therefore, we “run with faith to win the prize of a servant good and faithful” because we know that the day is coming “when with Christ we stand in glory.”
May the church arise in the strength of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Savior and King!
O Church, Arise (Audio)
Text and tune: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, 2005
© 2005, Thankyou Music
1. O church, arise and put your armor on,
hear the call of Christ our Captain.
For now the weak can say that they are strong
in the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth,
we’ll stand against the devil’s lies,
an army bold whose battle cry is love,
reaching out to those in darkness.
2. Our call to war to love the captive soul
but to rage against the captor.
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole,
we will fight with faith and valor.
When faced with trials on every side,
we know the outcome is secure,
and Christ will have the prize for which he died,
an inheritance of nations.
3. Come see the cross where love and mercy meet
as the Son of God is stricken.
Then see his foes lie crushed beneath his feet
for the Conqueror has risen.
And as the stone is rolled away,
and Christ emerges from the grave,
this victory march continues till the day
every eye and heart shall see him.
4. So Spirit, come, put strength in every stride,
give grace for every hurdle,
that we may run with faith to win the prize
of a servant good and faithful.
As saints of old still line the way,
retelling triumphs of his grace,
we hear their calls and hunger for the day
when with Christ we stand in glory.