"YE CHRISTIAN HERALDS"
"As ye go, preach…" (Matt. 10.7)
INTRO.: A hymn which tells us that one of the most important aspects of the work that God wants Christians to do is to go preaching the word is "Ye Christian Heralds." The text was written by Bourne Hall Draper, who was born at Cumnor near Oxford, England, in 1775. His parents were members of the Church of England and hoped to educate their son to be an Anglican minister. Their plans had to be abandoned, however, due to lack of sufficient funds, and Bourne became an printer’s apprentice at the Clarendon Press in Oxford. While there, he became a member of the Baptist Church and upon completion of his apprenticeship was recommended for admittance to the Baptist Academy at Briston where John Ryland was the head. Around 1803, while still a student, he penned a poem of seven stanzas entitled "Farewell to Missionaries," that was published in an English newspaper. After two years in the academy, he became a Baptist minister and in 1804 began serving with the Baptist Church at Chipping-Norton in Oxfordshire.
Portions of Draper’s poem were published as a hymn in Hymns for the Use of Christians at Portland, ME, in 1805 by Elias Smith and Abner Jones, under the title "On the Departure of the Missionaries, by a Bristol Student." Draper later moved to work with a church at Southampton, where he remained for the rest of his life. A number of his hymns appeared in various issues of the Baptist Magazine, signed with his initials B. H. D., and he is credited with thirty-six books, devotional works, sermons, and several works for children before his death at Southampton, England, on Oct. 12, 1843. The tune (Missionary Hymn) most commonly used with this hymn was composed in 1832 by Heinrich Christoph Zeuner, who was born on Sept. 20, 1795, at Eisleben in Saxony, Germany. After emigrating to America, he settled in Boston, MA, in 1824, where he was music director at the Park St. Church and from 1830 to 1838 played organ with the Handel and Haydn Society, during which time he wrote a march for the laying of the cornerstone of the Boston Masonic temple in 1830 and an oratorio The Feast of Tabernacles in 1836.
Zeuner’s other works include Church Music in 1831, The American Harp in 1832, The New Village Harmony for Sabbath Schools in 1834, and The Ancient Lyre in 1834. Also, he served as President of the Handel and Haydn Society from 1838 to 1839. In 1839 he moved to Philadelphia, PA, where he served as an organist. His death occurred in there on Nov. 8, 1857. The song originally began "Yes, Christian heroes!" The last three stanzas of Draper’s poem as a hymn "Ye Christian Heralds," the first four stanzas as a separate hymn beginning "Ruler of Worlds, Display Thy Power," and various alterations to the text were found in the 1874 Hymns and Songs of Praise. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 edited by E. L. Jorgenson; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. The text was used with a different tune (Duke Street by John Hatton) in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater.
The song encourages all Christians to be heralds of the good news.
I. Stanza 1 (originally #5) talks about salvation
"Ye Christian heralds, go proclaim Salvation in Immanuel’s name;
To distant climes the tidings bear, And plant the Rose of Sharon there."
A. A herald is one who proclaims news, and all Christians in the first century went everywhere preaching the news of God’s word: Acts 8.4
B. The message of the gospel that we preach is that salvation is available in Emmanuel’s name: Matt. 1.21-23
C. Poets often use the Rose of Sharon as a picture of Christ because the Rose of Sharon is one of the most beautiful flowers of Palestine: S. S. 2.1
II. Stanza 2 (originally #1) talks about Zion
"Ruler of worlds, display Thy power, Be this Thy Zion’s favored hour;
Bid the bright morning star arise, And point the nations to the skies."
A. The ruler of the worlds who is called on to display His power is God: Dan. 4.17
B. Zion here refers to the prophetic kingdom of the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament: Isa. 2.1-3
C. The bright morning star is used as a symbol of the Christ who established this kingdom: Rev. 22.10
III. Stanza 3 (originally #3) talks about the light
"Speak and the world shall hear Thy voice; Speak and the deserts shall rejoice!
Scatter the shades of mortal night; Let worthless idols flee the light!"
A. Like the apostles, we should speak the things that we have seen and heard in God’s word: Acts 4.20
B. It was prophesied that when the gospel is thus spoken, even the deserts will rejoice: Isa. 35.1
C. Such speaking will scatter the shades of night because God is light and in Him is no darkness at all: 1 Jn. 1.5
IV. Stanza 4 (originally #4) talks about the Gospel
"Trusting in Him, dear brethren, rear The Gospel standard void of fear;
Go seek with joy your destined shore, To view your native land no more."
A. Those who preach the word must certainly put their trust in the Lord: Ps. 37.3, Prov. 3.5
B. They must raise the Gospel standard because it is the power of God unto salvation: Rom. 1.16
C. God does not demand that every Christian leave his home and go to a distant shore to view his native land no more, but if the gospel is to be preached to every creature someone will have to do that: Mk.16.15-16
V. Stanza 5 (originally #6) talks about zeal
"God shield you with a wall of fire, With holy zeal your hearts inspire,
Bid raging winds their fury cease, And calm the savage beast to peace."
(The original read, "He’ll shield you…With flaming zeal….
And hush the tempests into peace.")
A. While we do not expect God to shield us literally with a wall of fire, we do have the Lord’s promise that as we go about making disciples of all nations, He will be with us: Matt. 28.18-20
B. We certainly look to Him to help us develop a zeal for good works: Tit. 2.11-14
C. Again, we may not always expect God to bid raging winds to cease their fury or hush the tempests into peace, in our zeal to do His will, we can look to Him for protection by the same power that stilled the storm on Galilee: Matt. 8.23-27
VI. Stanza 6 (originally #7) talks about the reward
"And when our labors all are o’er, Then we shall meet to part no more–
Meet with the blood-bought throng to fall, And crown the Savior Lord of all."
A. Someday, our labors in this life for the Lord will be over because in death we shall rest from our works: Rev. 14.13
B. When the Lord returns to raise the dead, we shall meet rise with that blood-bought throng to meet the Lord in the air: 1 Thess. 4.16-17
C. Some object to singing that we shall "Crown the Savior Lord of all" in heaven, but others suggest that we shall "crown" Him with our praise and adoration as we stand before His throne with the redeemed of all ages: Rev. 5.11-14 (I prefer to think that the latter is a distinct possibility when I see songs like this)
CONCL.: The omitted stanza reads as follows:
(#2) "Set up Thy throne where Satan reigns, On Afric shores, on India’s plains;
On wilds and continents unknown, And be the universe Thine own!"
Not everyone can or even should be a full-time proclaimer of the word of God. But all Christians who wish to be counted faithful to the Lord should seek for opportunities to teach others also. Therefore, we should take courage from God’s instructions when He addresses us as "Ye Christian Heralds."