It is one of the most ancient descriptors of the faithful, yet today, one hardly ever hears it, as this superb article by Anthony Esolen in The Catholic Thing notes.
I’ve recently written that a young man can attend ten years of Sunday Mass at almost any Catholic church in the United States, and, with the sole exception of a bowdlerized version of For All the Saints on All Saints’ Day, never once sing a masculine hymn that exhorts us to take up our spiritual arms and fight for Christ.
There’s no disputing this. If you are using Gather, Glory and Praise, Worship III or IV, or anything else from OCP or GIA, you cannot possibly have sung one of those hymns. There aren’t any in those hymnals. They have been expunged.
To give my readers a sense of the treasures we have buried in the basement, I submit O Valiant Hearts. It is an excellent hymn, fit for a Sunday near to Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day, or for the funeral of a soldier:
“O valiant hearts, who to your glory came,
Through dust of conflict and through battle-flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved…
John Arkwright wrote those words in 1919, just after the terrible first World War. We do not have to cheer for England’s part in that war to cherish valor when we see it. The men who fought “scorned themselves to save,” says the poet, and whatever may be the shifting sentiments of anyone in the midst of battle, for Christian soldiers that is no more than the truth.
They heard the call of duty to man and love of country, and they answered that call. Now they await the trump of doom, when the nations of earth shall be no more. For them it will be the last and greatest reveille, the muster of the body from the grave, and their ranks on ranks will join those of the heavenly armies.
Even now I fear that some of my readers are breaking out in hives. Shame on us. The language of spiritual warfare is everywhere to be found in both Testaments, Old and New. Jesus Himself says, “I come not to bring peace, but a sword,” and He is the Prince of Peace.
The poet understands that the Christian soldier follows the Captain who has gone before him. Long ago, on that bleak redoubt in Palestine, a cry resounded over the stillness of the dead earth. It is the battle cry of Jesus, the cry of ultimate obedience and of the last drop of blood shed for His enemies. “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” said He, and with a groan He gave up the ghost.
Retrieved February 10, 2015 from http://www.thecatholicthing.org/2015/02/10/treasure-basement/