“Guard the Bible Well”

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (1 Cor. 16.13)

     INTRO.: A song which encourages us to stand fast in the faith like men is "Guard the Bible Well." The text was written by T. McDougall. I have found no other information about the author or the background of the song. The tune was composed by William Howard Doane (1832-1915). I do not know when the song was first published. Doane was a successful businessman and amateur hymntune composer of the late 19th and early 20th century.

     Doane’s best-known collaborator was Fanny J. Crosby. Together they produced such beloved hymns as "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "The Blessed Hour of Prayer," "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet," "Savior, More Than Life To Me," "I Am Thine, O Lord," "Near the Cross," "Pass Me Not," "Rescue the Perishing," "To God Be the Glory," "To the Work," "Will Jesus Find Us Watching," "Hide Me, O My Savior," and "One Blessed Hour With Jesus." However, Doane provided tunes for hymns of others also, such as Elizabeth Payson Prentiss’s "More Love to Thee, O Christ," Lydia Baxter’s "Take the Name of Jesus With You," and Kate Hankey’s "Tell Me the Old, Old Story."

     I do not know whether there is any connection or not, but this song has the same meter and rhythm, with a military, march-like feeling, as William Fiske Sherwin’s "Sound the Battle Cry."  Both choruses even begin with the words, "Rouse, then" and use the term "rally." Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Guard the Bible Well" appeared in the the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), edited by L. O. Sanderson with C. M. Pullias, N. B. Hardeman, E. H. Ijams, and James F. Cox, for the Gospel Advocate Co., Nashville, TN. In fact, this is the only book in which I have ever seen the song.

     The song exhorts us to participate in the defense of God’s holy word.

I. Stanza 1 tells us to guard the Bible
"Guard the Bible well, All its foes repel,
The sweet story tell Of the Lord;
Guard what God revealed, As our sun and shield;
Never never yield His holy word."
 A. We must guard or keep that which has been committed to our trust, and that includes the faith once for all delivered to the saints: 1 Tim. 6.20, Jude v. 3
 B. This story is what God has revealed by the power of His Spirit to inspired apostles and prophets: Eph. 3.3-5
 C. The purpose for its revelation is to be our sun, a lamp to our feet and a light to out pathway: Ps. 119.105

II. Stanza 2 tells us to fight the good fight of the faith
"Book of love divine, Precious word of Thine,
Let it ever shine All abroad;
In the Spirit’s might We must win the fight,
For this Gospel light, The truth of God."
 A. The scripture is the word of God: 1 Th. 2.13, 2 Tim. 3.16-17
 B. Because it is from God, we must engage in the fight of faith to defend it: Phil. 1.17, 1 Tim. 6.12
 C. This requires that we uphold its truth: Jn. 17.17

III. Stanza 3 tells us to be strong in the battle
"Shout the Bible song, Swell the mighty throng,
In the cause be strong Of the right;
Look to God in prayer When the foe you dare,
And forever wear His armor bright."
 A. The Lord wants us to be soldiers in the mighty throng of His spiritual army: 2 Tim. 2:3-4
 B. As soldiers, our job is to dare the foe as we wage the good warfare: 1 Tim. 1.18
 C. But to do this, we must wear the armor of God’s might: Eph. 6.10-18

IV. Stanza 4 tells us to press on to the victory
"O, ye Christian band, For this Bible stand,
By the Lord’s command, Ne’er give o’er;
Lead the army on Till the strife is done,
And the cause is won, Forevermore."
 A. Of course, the name by which this great spiritual army is know is "Christians": Acts 11.26, 1 Pet. 4.16
 B. What sets them apart from others is that they obey the Lord’s command: Jn. 14.15, 1 Jn. 5.3
 C. And because they follow the Lord as their Commander, they shall win the victory when the strife is over: Rom. 8.37, 1 Cor. 15.57, 1 Jn. 5.4

     CONCL.: The chorus continues to urge us to stand up for God’s word:
"Rouse, then, Christians, Rally for the Bible!
Work on, pray on, Spread the truth abroad;
Stand, then, like men, In the cause triumphant,
For the Bible is the Word of God."
Many of the gospel songs that were "mass produced" in the late 1800’s have passed from the scene and are no longer remembered, and this seems to be one of them. Perhaps one reason is that this is not one of Doane’s most memorable tunes. But it is still an interesting song because the message of standing firm for the absolute truth of God’s word is certainly one that is sorely needed in this day of compromise. And another thought crossed my mind–it is also possible that songs like this are no longer in vogue because far too few people, even some who call themselves "Christians," even want to "rally for the Bible" because they simply no longer really believe that "the Bible is the Word of God." However, all true children of God will be set for the defense of the gospel and determined to "Guard The Bible Well."


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