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