RISE UP, O MEN OF GOD written in 1911
Maybe you don’t think this hymn applies to you if you are a woman. In fact, many hymnals have changed the words to “saints of God” or “church of God”. But it was never the intent of William Merrill (1867-1954) to discriminate against or exclude anybody; instead, it was his intent to challenge men in the church. Women in his day had numerous church organizations and groups (much like today), but there was not much for men.
William, a pastor, had been trying to strengthen the men in his Presbyterian denomination when a magazine editor suggested he write a special hymn for the brotherhood. It was an interesting idea, William thought, but he didn’t know what to write.
A short time later, as William was returning to his church in Chicago on board a Lake Michigan steamer, he was reading a Christian magazine. In it he noticed an article entitled, “the Church of the Strong Men”… that gave him the inspiration. Before the steamer was tied up to the dock in Chicago, he had written this brotherhood hymn.
This hymn is full of exclamation points and military-sounding commands. The Christian message still comes to us – both men and women – with exclamations and definite commands. Followers of Christ are called to be soldiers, not merely passive recipients of God’s blessings.
Read this hymn, and – today – if you are a man, rise up! If you are a woman, encourage the man closest to you to do so!
Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things;
give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings.
Rise up, O Church of God! His kingdom tarries long;
bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.
Rise up, O sons of God! The Church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task, rise up, and make her great!
Lift high the cross of Christ! Tread where His feet have trod;
as foll’wers of the Son of Man, rise up, O Church of God!