In 1721, while preparing a sermon regarding spiritual warfare, based on the passage “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” ( I Corinthians 16:13), Watts wrote the hymn Am I a Soldier of the Cross? to accompany his text.
Am I a Soldier of the Cross?
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.
Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faith's discerning eye.
When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through skies,
The glory shall be Thine.
The music currently published in hymnals, to accompany these lyrics, was written in 1762 by Thomas A. Arne, and arranged by Ralph Harrison in 1784.