Scripture Verse

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Introduction

portrait
George F. Handel
1685–1759

Words: Phi­lip Dodd­ridge (1702–1751). Pub­lished post­hu­mous­ly in Hymns Found­ed on Va­ri­ous Texts in the Ho­ly Scrip­tures, by Job Or­ton (Shrop­shire, Eng­land: Jo­shua Ed­dowes & John Cot­ton, 1755), num­ber 296: Press­ing on in the Chris­tian race.

Music: Christ­mas George F. Han­del, from the op­era Ci­roë (Cy­rus), 1728. Ar­ranged in Har­mon­ia Sacra, 1812 (🔊 pdf nwc) (re­peats last line of each verse).

portrait
Philip Doddridge
1702–1751

Anecdote

A min­is­ter­i­al broth­er says that when a child he heard a ser­mon on the text, So run that ye ob­tain, and hear­ing the mem­bers so strong­ly ex­hort­ed to en­gage in a race, he thought it was go­ing to take place right after the ser­vice.

Greatly did he feel dis­ap­point­ed when, hav­ing hast­ened out of the church to get a good po­si­tion on the fence, from which he could get a good view of the rac­ers, he found that they did not run a bit. In Cun­ning­ham Val­ley [Penn­syl­van­ia], we had lit­er­al­ly such a race at the close of preach­ing.

The church con­sist­ed of but one au­di­ence-room, and that was wedged so full of hear­ers, that it was im­pos­si­ble in a pray­er-meet­ing ser­vice to speak to those who de­sired to make known their an­xi­e­ties, and to seek spe­cial ad­vice.

So we se­cured three rooms at a ho­tel a few squares dist­ant. But these, prov­ing in­ad­e­quate to hold all, there was a reg­u­lar race at the close of each ser­vice to gain ad­mit­tance.

As there was a thaw in mid-win­ter, and roads un­paved, it was an am­us­ing sight to see the au­di­ence splash­ing through the mud on a re­gu­lar trot—men, wo­men and child­ren run­ning as if for their lives.

What still add­ed to the im­press­ive­ness of the scene was the fact that the tav­ern sign, swing­ing on its rus­ty piv­ots ov­er our heads as we en­tered the tav­ern, screeched most pi­te­ous­ly, as if it were ut­ter­ing the death groans of King Al­co­hol, and so they proved to be.

Most of the in­mates of the land­lord’s fa­mi­ly be­com­ing sub­jects of grace, the sign-post was cut down af­ter the close of our meet­ing, and the build­ing was af­ter­wards used for oth­er pur­pos­es.

Long, p. 144

Lyrics

Awake, my soul, stretch ev­ery nerve,
And press with vi­gor on;
A heav’n­ly race de­mands thy zeal,
And an im­mor­tal crown.

A cloud of wit­ness­es around
Hold thee in full sur­vey;
Forget the steps al­rea­dy trod,
And on­ward urge thy way.

’Tis God’s all ani­mat­ing voice
That calls thee from on high;
’Tis His own hand pre­sents the prize
To thine as­pir­ing eye.

That prize, with peer­less glo­ries bright,
Which shall new lus­ter boast,
When vic­tors’ wreaths and mon­archs’ gems
Shall blend in com­mon dust.

Blest Sav­ior, in­tro­duced by Thee,
Have I my race be­gun;
And, crowned with vic­to­ry at Thy feet,
I’ll lay my hon­ors down.