“GUARD THE BIBLE WELL”

Wayne S. Walker

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor.
16.13)

INTRO.: A song which encourages us to stand fast in the faith like
men is “Guard the Bible Well.” The text was written by T. McDougall. I
have no other information about the author or the background of the song.
The tune was composed by William Howard Doane (1832-1915). I do not
know when it was first published. Doane was a successful businessman and
amateur hymntune composer of the late 19th and early 20th century.
His best-known collaborator was Fanny J. Crosby. Together they
produced such beloved hymns as “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” “The Blessed
Hour of Prayer,” “Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet,” “Savior, More Than
Life To Me,” “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “Near the Cross,” “Pass Me Not,”
“Rescue the Perishing,” “To God Be the Glory,” “To the Work,” “Will Jesus
Find Us Watching,” “Hide Me, O My Savior,” and “One Blessed Hour With
Jesus.” However, he provided tunes for hymns of others also, such as
Elizabeth Payson Prentiss’s “More Love to Thee, O Christ,” Lydia Baxter’s
“Take the Name of Jesus With You,” Kate Hankey’s “Tell Me the Old, Old
Story.”

I do not know whether there is any connection or not, but this song
has the same meter and rhythm, with a military, march-like feeling, as
William Fiske Sherwin’s “Sound the Battle Cry” (“Sacred Selections for
the Church,” #223) . Both choruses even begin with the words, “Rouse,
then” and use the term “rally.” The only book in which I have ever seen
“Guard the Bible Well” is the 1935 “Christian Hymns” No. 1 (#306), edited
by L. O. Sanderson with C. M. Pullias, N. B. Hardeman, E. H. Ijams, and
James F. Cox, for the Gospel Advocate Co., Nashville, TN.

The song exhorts us to participate in the defense of God’s holy
word.

I. Stanza 1 tells us to guard the Bible
“Guard the Bible well, All its foes repel, The sweet story tell Of the
Lord;
Guard what God revealed, As our sun and shield; Never never yield His
holy word.”
A. We must guard or keep that which has been committed to our trust, and
that includes the faith once for all delivered to the saints: 1 Tim.
6.20, Jude v. 3
B. This story is what God has revealed by the power of His Spirit to
inspired apostles and prophets: Eph. 3.3-5
C. The purpose for its revelation is to be our sun, a lamp to our feet
and a light to out pathway: Ps. 119.105

II. Stanza 2 tells us to fight the good fight of the faith
“Book of love divine, Precious word of Thine, Let it ever shine All
abroad;
In the Spirit’s might We must win the fight, For this Gospel light, The
truth of God.”
A. The scripture is the word of God: 1 Th. 2.13, 2 Tim. 3.16-17
B. Because it is from God, we must engage in the fight of faith to
defend it: Phil. 1.17, 1 Tim. 6.12
C. This requires that we uphold its truth: Jn. 17.17

III. Stanza 3 tells us to be strong in the battle
“Shout the Bible song, Swell the mighty throng, In the cause be strong Of
the right;
Look to God in prayer When the foe you dare, And forever wear His armor
bright.”
A. The Lord wants us to be soldiers in the mighty throng of His
spiritual army: 2 Tim. 2:3-4
B. As soldiers, our job is to dare the foe as we wage the good warfare:
1 Tim. 1.18
C. But to do this, we must wear the armor of God’s might: Eph. 6.10-18

IV. Stanza 4 tells us to press on to the victory
“O, ye Christian band, For this Bible stand, By the Lord’s command, Ne’er
give o’er;
Lead the army on Till the strife is done, And the cause is won,
Forevermore.”
A. Of course, the name by which this great spiritual army is know is
“Christians”: Acts 11.26, 1 Pet. 4.16
B. What sets them apart from others is that they obey the Lord’s
command: Jn. 14.15, 1 Jn. 5.3
C. And because they follow the Lord as their Commander, they shall win
the victory when the strife is over: Rom. 8.37, 1 Cor. 15.57, 1 Jn. 5.4

CONCL.: The chorus continues to urge us to stand up for God’s word:
“Rouse, then, Christians, Rally for the Bible! Work on, pray on, Spread
the truth abroad;
Stand, then, like men, In the cause triumphant, For the Bible is the Word
of God.”
Many of the gospel songs that were “mass produced” in the late 1800’s
have passed from the scene and are no longer remembered, and this seems
to be one of them. Perhaps the reason is that this is not one of Doane’s
most memorable tunes. But it is still an interesting song because the
message of standing firm for the absolute truth of God’s word is
certainly one that is sorely needed in this day of compromise. (And
another thought crossed my mind–it is also possible that songs like this
are no longer in vogue because far too few people who call themselves
“Christians” even want to “rally for the Bible” because they simply do
not really believe that “the Bible is the Word of God”).

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