For all-age worship on Sunday I decided to skip the Gospel story of the healing of the leper and the linked Old testament story of Naaman and go with the epistle instead: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The theme of the service was ‘Get Ready to Run’. I interviewed a couple of young men from Archway who are heavily into sports, had a conversation with the congregation about applying Paul’s teaching to the Christian life, and we watched the video about churches responding to the Olympics by the ‘More Than Gold’ agency.
There are not many hymns that connect with this theme, so this was an obvious choice. It actually draws from two other texts with a sporting metaphor, in particular 1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith…” and Hebrews 12:1-2.
The writer John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811-1875) was an Irish-born Anglican clergyman. A collection of his hymns was published while he was vicar of Egham, Surrey, under the title Hymns of Love and Praise for the Church’s Year (1863). In addition to the present hymn, this included the hymns ‘Sing to the Lord a joyful song’, ‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ and ‘I hunger and I thirst’. In total he wrote some three hundred hymns.
Fight the good fight with all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength, and Christ thy Right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes, and seek His face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the Path, and Christ the Prize.
Cast care aside, upon thy Guide,
Lean, and His mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life, and Christ its Love.
Faint not nor fear, His arms are near,
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is all in all to thee.