Launch Forth

LAUNCH FORTH

“And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13)

      INTRO.:  A hymn which identifies Jesus as the Word of God whose vestment is dipped in blood is “Launch Forth.”  In most books, the place for the author’s name has only the instruction “Majestically” and is otherwise left blank with no name.  One might have guessed that the text may have been written by the same person who composed the tune (Langston), namely Rodney Langston (b. 1932).  Praise for the Lord confirms that this is the case.  I have no other specific information about this individual.  A little Internet research turned up references for several different people by that name, a number of which mentioned a preacher named Rodney Langston who officiated at lot of funerals for Baptist folks.

     However, I found only one that is likely to have any kind of relationship to the song.  In the digital catalogue of the Papers of R. G. (Reuel Gordon) Lemmons (1908-1989), long-time editor of the Firm Foundation magazine and compiler of two Foundation hymnals, the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise, at Abilene Christian University, there is a reference to “MISCELLANEOUS in box 11,” which included “15 sermons or discussions; 2 prayers; Rodney Langston, Thanksgiving Prayer, Typed Manuscript. “  I have no other information about Langston and do not know for sure whether this person mentioned in the Lemmons files has anything to do with the song or not, but it might be assumed given the double connection with Lemmons. 

     “Launch Forth” was copyrighted in 1959 by the Firm Foundation Publishing House.  It appeared in the 1959 Majestic Hymnal No. 2 and the 1978 Hymns of Praise, both edited by Lemmons.  Also it was used in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard, the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand, and the 2009 Favorite Songs of the Church edited by Robert J. Taylor Jr.

     The song describes several functions of Jesus as the Word.

I. Stanza 1 talks about His work

Launch forth Thou Mighty Word!

Thy glorious work fulfill;

Fling out Thy living verities

O’er seas both wild and still.

 A. The work of Jesus Christ is to seek and save the lost: Lk. 19:10

 B. “Verities” refers to the truth by which He accomplishes His work: Jn. 8:32

 C. He wants His gospel message of salvation preached everywhere “O’er seas both wild and still”: Mk. 16:15-16

II. Stanza 2 talks about His warfare

Launch forth Thou Mighty Word!

For Thou alone canst fight;

Destroy the power of ignorance,

Dispel the gloom of night.

 A. Jesus is the one who leads us in fighting the good fight of faith: 1 Tim. 6:12

 B. He came to destroy the power of ignorance, which is one of the works of the devil: 1 Jn. 3:8

 C. And He dispels the gloom of night by being the light of the world: Jn. 9:5

III. Stanza 3 talks about His comfort

Launch forth Thou Mighty Word!

Though waves about may roll,

Subdue and quieten, Lord, make still,

And calm the troubled soul.

 A. The “waves about” represent the trials of life: Jas. 1:2-3

 B. Jesus subdued and quieted the literal waves of the sea: Matt. 8:23-27

 C. And He can calm our troubled souls by His comfort: 2 Cor. 1:3-7

IV. Stanza 4 talks about His people

Lord, we Thine agents are;

Our  courage overflows.

O give us faith and fortitude

To overcome Thy foes.

 A. As agents of the Lord, we need courage: Josh. 1:6-9

 B. Only by faith can we gain the victory: 1 Jn. 5:4

 C. This courage and faith will enable us to overcome His foes: Eph. 6:10-12

      CONCL.:  When I preached with a church which used a songbook that had this hymn in it, I do not think that we ever sang it.  As I would casually glance at the song while leafing through the book, I just assumed that it was about the Bible as God’s word.  However, the term “Mighty Word” is addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ as the living Word of God.  As His soldiers, we must stand with Him as together we “Launch Forth.”

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