Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Hymns of the Church – Bugle calls are Sounding – 4 April 2017, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt 24:30-31)
This rousing old hymn was perhaps heavily influenced by the post-Civil War culture in America. There are many hymns of the period that compare the terrible bloodshed of that War to the spiritual carnage of that War of Righteousness begun at Eden. Unlike the War Between the States in which both sides bore their colors proudly into battle and wore uniforms of unmistakable distinction, the enemies of God carry false standards and dress in uniforms that mimic those of the people of God.
The author of this hymn is Harriette Waters who composed the song in 1905 to the musical score by AE Lind.
Bugle Calls are Ringing Out
Bugle calls are ringing out,
Forward is the battle shout,
See where floats the conqu’ring sign,
Onward to the war divine!
And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown,
We shall wear a crown, we shall wear a crown!
And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown
In the new Jerusalem!
Wear a crown, wear a crown, away over Jordan!
And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown
In the new Jerusalem!
Sound the charge against the foe,
Lay the hosts of error low;
In His name, victorious King,
Let the song of triumph ring!
Fight the fight of faith and love,
Looking unto Him above;
Loyal soldiers, do and dare,
Your Commander’s joy to share.
Bugle calls are ringing out, Forward is the battle shout, See where floats the conqu’ring sign, Onward to the war divine! The brass bugle, a proud member of the trumpet family, is a particularly military-class of musical instrument. It suffices as such for its peculiar properties of clarity, volume, and simple versatility in sounding various calls of critical and unmistakable meaning on the battlefield or in the barracks in proclaiming action or even rest. The battle lines are drawn, and the enemy is desperate in his avarice. Our banners must be held high and proudly in the advance formation of our line of battle. It is the Upright Ensign about which the soldiers of God (all Christians are His soldiers) may rally. On the higher ground stand the Army of the Divine Will, and on the far, dugouts of the Enemy of Wicked Rebellion.
And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown, We shall wear a crown, we shall wear a crown! And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown In the new Jerusalem! Wear a crown, wear a crown, away over Jordan! And when the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown In the new Jerusalem! When the battle’s over… There is an end to the war to end all wars. The bugle has a role to play at that moment, as well – the ‘Last Call.’ I heard that bugle call every night of my tenure as a military cadet. In the Kingdom of God, Last Call herald’s victory for the people of God – a victory foreordained before the Foundation of the World in the crucified Lord. But the Last Call signals the opposite for the slothful, the wicked, the recalcitrant, and the incorrigible of the world who rejected, with their eyes open, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ having never received an election in Christ.
Do you reject the description of our struggle against satanic forces as being WAR? War is a dreadful result of sin. The Bible is full of ongoing accounts of war. There was even War in Heaven, and Christ will return leading the armies of Heaven to engage the enemy in overwhelming power and might. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Rev 17:14) 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev 19:11-16) Sure sounds a bit like a ‘war to end all wars’ does it not?
Across the white-water rapids of heavenly Jordan, there awaits a host of friends and family who have crossed those rapids before us. As we approach those stormy Jordan Banks, it is then that we shall hear, above the warbling waters, the distinct bugle call of Last Post (or Last Call). As our weary feet settle, for the last time, in the miry clay of this old world, we suddenly feel a strong and resolute Hand pulling us ever upward and, as we look up, we see the loving face of our Lord, Maker, and Redeemer beaming a welcome to His discharged soldier.
The Crown of Righteousness is not the first Trophy we shall receive – it is the embrace of Christ that is of greater value than all else. That Crown cannot be granted on this side of Jordan Banks. We must first heed that last tattoo of taps, and sleep the wonderful sleep of the just. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:51-57) We shall awake in New Jerusalem.
Sound the charge against the foe, Lay the hosts of error low; In His name, victorious King, Let the song of triumph ring! We cannot abide in our trenches as a victorious army. We must rout the enemy, and the only means of doing that is to abandon the trenches and advance our lines of battle into the misappropriated fields of the enemy. Wars were never won by a trench-bound army. The forces of Satan fear, above all else, a dedicated and resolute army coming at the charge. Even in the midst of battle, our song must be as victorious as our Bishop and Captain of Heaven.
Fight the fight of faith and love, Looking unto Him above; Loyal soldiers, do and dare, Your Commander’s joy to share. As white leukocytes (white blood cells) do not decimate the invading organisms of disease but rather wrap around them and love them to death, so must we quit ourselves in this different kind of spiritual war. We must show mercy and compassion, but never compromise or accommodation; and there are moments when Divine wrath must be employed. We must keep our eyes on the Upper Light at all times. Stephen, the martyr went to sleep thusly: 59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60) Or, remember Peter walking on water with a fixed focus on Christ. When he took his eyes from off the Lord, he sank beneath the flood and was saved by that strong, outstretched Arm.
We may be bruised and bleeding from our battle wounds, but never so much as our Lord on the cross. We may suffer pain, but nothing to compare with the physical and spiritual pain of our Captain. We may suffer humiliation, but none so much as being stripped naked before all to see on the Cross – and He was the most virtuous and modest of all. We may suffer death and burial, but may it be in a borrowed tomb as was His.