Soldier, Soldier, Fighting in the World's Great Strife

The story behind the hymn

Soldier, soldier, fighting in the world’s great strife,
On yourself relying, battling for your life:
Trust yourself no longer,
Trust to Christ, He’s stronger:
“I can all things, all things do
Through Christ who strengthens me.”

In your daily duty, standing up for right,
Are you sometimes weary, heart not always light?
Doubt your Saviour never,
This your motto ever:
“I can all things, all things do
Through Christ who strengthens me.”

If your way be weary, He will help you through;
Help you in your troubles and your pleasures too;
Say when Satan’s by you;
Say, when all things try you:
“I can all things, all things do
Through Christ who strengthens me.”

In a world of trouble, tempted oft to stray,
You need never stumble; Satan cannot stay –
Will but tempt you vainly,
If you tell him plainly
“I can all things, all things do
Through Christ who strengthens me.”

Jesus’ power is boundless – boundless as the sea;
He is always able, able to keep me –
Power bring from my weakness,
Glory from my meekness:
“I can all things, all things do
Through Christ who strengthens me.”

Richard Hudson Pope 1879 - 1967

Richard Hudson Pope was born in Fulham, London in 1879. The famous children’s writer, Patricia St John, considered him to be, “One of the wisest, most skilful, and most effective and widely used children's evangelists of 'modern' times”. He wrote the hymn “Soldier, Soldier fighting.” Here is just a short summary of his remarkable life.

1. Conversion
On a damp, misty evening on April 23 1893, a mission was being held in Putney High Street and surprisingly the speaker was to be an elderly lady. Mrs Pope felt led to urge her 14yr old son, Dick to accompany her. He did not wish to go and only agreed on condition that his friend Cecil should go too. So, the three followed the mother right to the second row of the hall. The speaker was not the type who would naturally have appealed to boys! But when the singing was over there was power and sweetness in her presentation of the gospel. That night Dick prayed. It was a faltering prayer which broke down in the middle, but it reached the Saviour’s ear and that night he was born again.

2. Do something!
Dick wanted to do something for the Saviour. He began to help at the local Sunday School but as he was too young to teach he was asked to look after the library and mind babies! On the way home he would stop at the cottage of Mr and Mrs Harding who were invalids and hold a little service. A few months later Mr Harding died. Gazing in awe at the still face it was indelibly impressed on Dick that the time to serve God was very short. He must not waste a moment. He began to wonder what could be done at school. He attended St Mark's School, Chelsea, and he began to be troubled by the cheating and cribbing that went on. He and his friend Charles Chadwick founded what was known as the Non Cheating League. Charles was not a Christian and watched him closely during those years. Dick said, “someone must do something!” One day Charles was leaving the Pope’s garden to go home when he heard running steps behind him and Dick, very red in the face, caught him up and threw an arm across his friend’s shoulders. "Charlie, old chap, have you accepted Christ as your personal Saviour?" Both boys were highly embarrassed. "I don't know" replied Charlie, shaking off the detaining arm. "I think so". After leaving School, Charles often spent his Sundays in Dick’s home and every Sunday afternoon Dick invited him to the boys’ meeting. Charles was excellent at inventing excuses, but at last a day came when he ran out of ideas and a few weeks later he became a Christian.

3. First job & Backsliding
At the age of 16 Dick went out to work, typing, keeping books and accounts in a London office. He had desires to become an evangelist but God said, “No, you haven't had your training yet”. Dick said, “He put me in a London office to push a pen for seven years. It showed me what men were like; it showed me how wicked I was myself and how prone to fall into sin”. Those years were years of temptation and sometimes failure. He might well have undergone a serious spiritual breakdown were it not for his mother's prayers.

4. Learning by doing
Some time after this, with amazing zeal and fearful lack of experience they borrowed a local Mission Hall and advertised boy's meetings. Seventy turned up and it ended in a free fight! The boys were only too ready to come again, but the second meeting ended in a riot and the fourth night was hardly better!

They found however that they could control a smaller number and great was their joy one night when they persuaded them to sit quietly and listen to the Word of God. Unknown to themselves they were training each other, as only true friends can do. They laughed and criticised each other. They prayed together and encouraged each other. And they were learning, through their mistakes.

5. Lesson on pride at the Beach Mission
One summer he joined a Beach Mission in Wales. He enjoyed himself, but there was one thing that worried him. The leader had never once asked him to speak, and he was rather resentful. Then one morning the leader came to Dick's room, not to invite him to speak, but to talk to him about his own spiritual life. They ended on their knees praying about deeper consecration to their Lord. Dick's eyes had been opened during that talk, he recognised that he must go further and stoop lower himself before he could help anyone else. He was learning that his natural fluency, his humour, his talent in dealing with children, even his hard work and zeal for God were simply not enough.

6. A comedian or a soul-winner?
Dick had great gifts - his talent in music, his comic songs, his organising and dramatic ability, his humour and his literary talent - the boys loved him! Sometimes his comic character came out too much and the balance was wrong. A night came when God spoke to him – “People don't come to a comedian if they are in trouble about their souls”. He recalls, “One night I had been speaking at a boys meeting, and we had a serious time. After the meeting was over I was singing a funny song and everyone was laughing. There was a knock and the door opened. I called out, 'come in' and a voice said, 'Sir, have I got to be very sorry for my sins before I come to Christ?'' That was a serious lesson learned for Dick.

7. Last 3 years of training - Hostel and boys home warden
At 23, Dick was offered a job running a hostel for down and out men in Ipswich. He only stayed in the job a year but during that time, a boy called William Charles Knights was wandering through Ipswich when he saw a notice at the hostel advertising a ‘Men's Meeting on Sunday at 8pm’. The speaker was to be Richard Hudson Pope. William was only a boy, but he worked in the foundry and earned a man's wage so he walked in and sat hidden behind the stove. There for the first time in his life he heard the very words that had drawn Dick to the Saviour nine years previously, "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in…" William went straight to Dick afterwards to talk and pray. He was wonderfully saved and years later went on to found the Caravan Mission to Village Children. Dick left the hostel and became warden of a Boys’ Home in Ipswich. The boys loved him and many were blessed spiritually. He organised evenings of fun and laughter and loving Christian teaching that made an impression on many homeless lads.

8. Evangelist with Children's Special Service Mission (CSSM)
He now applied to join the Children's Special Service Mission (that ran the beach missions around Britain and now known as Scripture Union) as an evangelist. He went to the interview very nervous but after sharing his experience of the Lord and his love for the souls of children he was asked to start on 1 January 1906. In the early days with CSSM he was greatly influenced by the godly George Goodman of the Surrey Caravan Mission. Goodman’s approach to the work humbled Hudson Pope. At the end of the week he went and tore up most of his own carefully prepared talks. "There's something in that man’s presentation of the Gospel that I haven't got. God helping me, I'll start again" he said. After 54 years in children’s evangelistic work Dick retired in 1960.

The aim of his missions was always the same, "The job of an evangelist is not to indoctrinate or teach. It is to bring children to Christ. If they have never heard the full Gospel they will hear it tonight" he would say. They did and many did come to Christ!

(Content summarised from: 'R Hudson Pope', Patricia M St John, Scripture Union, 1967)