English hymn by Bishop Reginald Heber (1783-1826). This hymn is not often heard in church these days. The call for self-sacrifice, the warlike imagery, and the glorification of martyrdom all place it out of fashion. The pleasantly equal description of male and female saints, celibate and otherwise, in the closing section, is overlooked. You are much more likely to hear this hymn, in fact, by watching a movie. The Man who would be King, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine, based on the Rudyard Kipling story, features the piece. In the film, the words are sung to the tune of the Irish folk song 'The Minstrel Boy', which Star Trek fans will in turn recognise as Chief Miles O'Brien's theme. The words don't fit that tune very well, and by having only brief snatches of the music, the film skirts the ungainly vocalisations required. That tune requires the words to be arranged into eight-line stanzas, pairing the quatrains shown here. The four-line grouping presented is used with 'St Anne', familiar from 'O God, our help in ages past', and as a fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach. 'All Saints', by Henry S Cutler, is used with the 8-line scheme, and should not be confused with the tune of the same name from the 1698 Darmstadt Gesangbuch. Ellacombe, familiar as the tune for 'The Day of Resurrection', 'Warrior', and the Old 81st may also be used, all in 8-line stanzas.

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?

Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in His train.

That martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on Him to save.

Like Him, with pardon on His tongue,
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them that did the wrong:
Who follows in His train?

A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came;
Twelve valiant saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.

They met the tyrant's brandished steel,
The lion's gory mane;
They bowed their heads the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?

A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Saviour's throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.

They climbed the steep ascent of Heaven,
Through peril, toil and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given,
To follow in their train.

Everything Hymnal

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