Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ You - LSB 668

This hymn, in the Church Militant section of Lutheran Service Book, is a bold encouragement to Christians to “put on the whole armor of God, that [we] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:11). The text is by Wilhelm Erasmus Arends (1677-1721), a Lutheran Pastor in Crottorf, in the Western part of Germany. The tune, WACHET AUF, was written for the text “Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying.” The composer, Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), was a German Lutheran pastor who wrote both text and tune for the hymn “Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying” (LSB 516) and “O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright) (LSB 395).

Stanza One:

Rise! To arms! With prayer employ you, O Christians, lest the foe destroy you; For Satan has designed your fall. Wield God’s Word, the weapon glorious; Against all foes be thus victorious, For God protects you from them all. Fear not the hordes of hell, Here is Emmanuel. Hail the Savior! The strong foes yield To Christ, our shield, And we, the victors, hold the field.

When our Lord was tempted by Satan He did not use His divine powers, but the Word of God, the “sword of the Spirit,” as St. Paul writes in Ephesians 6. We Christians, then, also use the Word and prayer, which is speaking back to God the promises He’s given us, in our daily fight against the Devil. We need not fear the hordes of hell, for Christ has won the victory.

Stanza Two:

Cast afar this world’s vain pleasure And boldy strive for heavenly treasure. Be steadfast in the Savior’s might. Trust the Lord, who stands beside you, For Jesus from all harm will hide you. By faith you conquer in the fight. Take courage, weary soul! Look forward to the goal! Joy awaits you. The race well run, Your long war won, Your crown shines splendid as the sun.

Christ says in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The stuff of this world will not last, it will decay and turn to dust. But in Christ, we have an eternal treasure that will neither perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for us. So, while we live amidst this world of decay and destruction, we have the sure and certain hope that the best is yet to come because of Jesus.

Stanza Three:

Wisely fight, for time is fleeting; the hours of grace are fast retreating; Short, short is this our earthly way. When the Lord the dead will waken And sinners all by ear are shaken, The saints with joy will greet that day. Praise God, our triumph’s sure. We need not long endure Scorn and trial. Our Savior King His own will bring To that great glory which we sing.

Christ will come again soon! We don’t know when, but we wait with eager expectation for that great and glorious day. “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We have such great promises from the Lord and we know that they are certain and sure in Christ. “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raise imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53) Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!