“Soldiers of Christ Arise” – UMH 517
Anybody know what “panoply” means?
This lyric gem came up in UMH 517 in the introit at in person worship: “Soldiers of Christ Arise”. The second verse states: “Stand then in his great might, with all his strength endued, but take to arm you for the fight the panoply of God; that having all things done, and all your conflicts passed, ye may o’ercome thru Christ alone and stand entire at last.” According to Mirriam-Webster online dictionary, ‘panoply” is 1) a full suit of armor – or ceremonial attire, 2) something forming a protective covering, 3) a magnificent or impressive array – or a display of all appropriate appurtenances.
Who wrote “Soldiers of Christ Arise?”
Charles Wesley (1707-1788). According to hymnary.org, Charles Wesley was the 18th and youngest son of Samuel and Susanna Wesley. He attended Westminster School. In 1721, he was elected Kings Scholar, continuing his education tuition free. He received a Westminster Studentship at Oxford Church from 1726-1729, when he graduated, considered one of the first “Oxford Methodists.” In 1735, already a priest and deacon, Charles accompanied General Oglethorpe to Georgia in the dual capacity of secretary and missionary. By 1736, Charles was back in England. Reportedly, in 1738 Charles preached as curate for his friend Stonegate, to the outrage of the wardens who insisted he not preach there anymore. Thus rejected, Charles connected with his older brother John Wesley and became an itinerant evangelist and preacher.
Charles remained faithful to the Church of England and became known as “The Bard of Methodism” due to his close association with his brother John and his prolific hymn writing. The UMH (United Methodist Hymnal) 1989 includes over 50 of Charles’ hymns and 8 poems. Every occasion in life resulted in Charles writing a hymn: over 5000 hymns were ascribed to him over his life. In the Wesleyan Hymn Book alone, 623 out of 770 hymns were written by Charles Wesley – one of the greatest hymn writers ever.