LEAD ON, O KING ETERNAL                                                        written in 1887

The Story

In 1887, Ernest Shurtleff (1862-1917) was graduating from Andover Theological Seminary, and his graduating class asked him to write the class poem. Instead of writing a poem, he wrote a hymn… and he asked his graduating class to sing it with him on commencement day. He introduced his hymn… this hymn… by saying, “We have spent days of preparation here at this seminary. Now the day of march has come, and we must go out to follow the leadership of the King of kings, to conquer the world under his banner.”

His words fit that group of graduating seminarians. But the words of this hymn apply to all of us at any time! Every day is a commencement, and the Lord calls us to step through the open door he has given us and face the world in His strength.

The Song

            Read this hymn, and – today – step out into your day under the leadership of your eternal King!

Lead on, O King eternal, the day of march has come;
henceforth in fields of conquest Thy tents shall be our home.
Through days of preparation Thy grace has made us strong;
and now, O King eternal, we lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King eternal, till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper the sweet “amen” of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums;
with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal, we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning where’er Thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted over us, we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest; lead on, O God of might.

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