Dudley Tyng served as his father’s assistant at Philadelphia’s Church of the Epiphany and was elected its pastor when his father retired in 1854. He was only 29 when he succeeded his father at the large Episcopal church, and at first, it seemed a great fit. But the honeymoon ended when Dudley began vigorously preaching against slavery. Loud complaints rose from the more conservative members, resulting in Dudley’s resignation in 1856.
He and his followers organized the Church of the Covenant elsewhere in the city, and his reputation grew. He began noontime Bible studies at the YMCA, and his ministry reached far beyond his own church walls. Dudley had a burden for leading husbands and fathers to Christ, and he helped organize a great rally to reach them. On Tuesday, March 30, 1858, 5,000 men gathered. Dudley looked over the sea of faces and declared, “I would rather this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God’s message.” Over 1,000 men were converted that day.
Two weeks later Dudley was visiting in the countryside, watching a corn-thrasher in the barn. His hand moved too close to the machine and his sleeve was snared. His arm was ripped from its socket, the main artery severed. Four days later his right arm was amputated close to the shoulder. When it appeared he was dying, Dudley told his aged father: “Stand up for Jesus, father, and tell my brethren of the ministry to stand up for Jesus.”
Rev. George Duffield of Philadelphia’s Temple Presbyterian Church was deeply stirred by Dudley’s funeral, and the following Sunday he preached from Ephesians 6 about standing firm for Christ. He read a poem he had written, inspired by Dudley’s words: Stand up, stand up for Jesus, / Ye soldiers of the cross; / Lift high His royal banner, / It must not suffer loss.
The editor of a hymnal heard the poem, found appropriate music, and published it. Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus soon became one of America’s favorite hymns, extending Dudley’s dying words to millions.
Put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6.13)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). March 30.