Theme CD: Martyrdom

By some estimates, more Christians died for the faith in the 1900s than in any previous century. Despite the Bible’s calls to remember those suffering for the faith in prayer and reminders that we are part of the same body, it’s not a topic most American Christians discuss frequently. Thus it should come as little surprise that there don’t seem to be many Southern Gospel songs about martyrdom.

In fact, I can only think of one: “We’ll Go Down Standing Up,” penned by Kyla Rowland, and not yet cut by any major-label group (though her brother has recorded it with The Rowlands).

Are there others?

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45 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. The Dove Brothers recorded Ray Boltz’s “I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”, which at least makes reference to martyrdom, even if it isn’t the main focus of the song.

    • Great song. I’m hoping we can come up with ten by SG songwriters, not just covers from other genres, but if we can’t, that would be a great entry.

    • I saw the old video for that song on TBN or something the other night. It was pretty strange…but the song’s not bad.

      • The video was strange, TBN was strange, or the singers were strange?

      • I was referring to the video as being strange, but at times TBN can be strange too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Yes.

        Now was that a concept video? Is that why it was strange?

      • Yeah, it was a concept video. It started out with a Dad telling his son about how people gave their life for their faith. Then it goes into the song, with various scenes of people being martyred. Then after the song is over, we return to the Dad and son, who we now see are in some kind of futuristic holding cell. Some armed guard comes in and takes the Dad away, supposedly going to execute him for his faith.

        The whole thing just struck me as a little strange, probably mainly because of the relatively low budget for production and actors.

      • Good song, and neat concept for the video, though I agree the whole thing is a little odd.

        Has anybody recorded this song besides Ray Boltz? If not, I’d like to see somebody re-record it…

      • Whoops, sorry, if I’d scrolled up I would have seen that the Dove Brothers had done it. I should go find their version.

      • Do it.

        Definitely find the Dove Brothers’ rendition of this song, because it’s positively magnificent. John Rulapaugh’s tenor vocal on the song is incomparable, probably the best performance he has ever delivered over a decade plus of strong performances.

      • Thanks for the link, but I already found it! I love it. Way better than the original, and I’d rather listen to something other than the original at this point anyhow.

        Wow…lovely tenor. I’ve never heard John’s voice before. Exactly what I like in a tenor—full-bodied, clear, strong, and pure. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I know. His voice is well-trained – and he knows precisely what he can do, and in what range he sounds best.

        And he’s smart enough to stick to that range where he sounds best.

        This song did more than any other to win me over as a huge fan of his singing!

      • I just put two and two together…John sings tenor for that new trio Freedom now, doesn’t he?

        Okay, I’m headed over to their website now…

        Oh, does John remind anyone else of Jim Murray a bit? He sounds most like Jim of the other tenors I’ve heard.

      • Hang on…where is their website? Do they have one?

      • Yes. He sang for 4 or 5 years with the Dove Brothers, 3 or 4 with Palmetto State Quartet, and then went off the road for a while, managing a cabin business and singing some at Ron Blackwood’s breakfast theater.

      • Yes, they have one – it’s just that Freedom is an almost impossible-to-Google group name!

        Oh: And the tenor he’s most frequently compared to is the legendary Rosie Rozell of the Statesmen.

  2. “Faith of Our Fathers” refers rather indirectly to martyrdom in the first verse (“in spite of dungeon, fire and sword”) and in the last line of the chorus “we will be true to thee til death”).

    The first song that popped in my head when I read your post was “If Only Just a Few”, but it doesn’t refer to Paul’s martyrdom, but to his suffering in general.

    Yet another “tough subject”. Folks don’t write songs about it because their listeners as a whole don’t want to hear about it. (Not saying it should be that way, but it is.)

  3. If Only Just A Few by the Mark Trammell Trio. You could say it’s more about missions than martyrdom, but the verses talk about Paul giving up his life for the faith. And also the line, “I will give my all if for only just a few”

    • You know, I could see that fitting.

  4. “We Have Won” by John Starnes. A great song that speaks directly of giving your life for Christ.

    • Jericho and Perfect Heart also did this and did it well.

  5. Would “These Are They”?

    • PERFECT! Man, I totally should have thought of that one!

    • DUH… Um, yeah, that would be a pretty good fit I’d say!!

    • The song refers to the post-Rapture Tribulation martyrs. I suppose future martyrs count, although the song doesn’t really deal with martyrdom directly.

      • Brian is a party pooper lol. Although he does have a point.

      • I didn’t mean to “party poop”. I agree that it was a good suggestion.

      • I know man just kidding.

      • I should add that the passage from which the song is based (Revelation 7) is a tough one, and there are good men of God who disagree on just who the “they” are in “these are they”. So don’t take my words as gospel. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Read Revelation 7 and decide for yourself.

      • I’m aware of discussions over who is being referred to in Rev. 7. Interesting questions there.

        Let’s just say that songs about future martyrs are admissible for the purposes of this discussion!

      • No argument that the Rev 7 passage refers to martyrs – we can adjudge “they” are future from our standpoint – but prophetically designated as martyrs in John’s vision, so hopefully,
        “These are They” stands as an appropriate song for the purpose of this thread.

        “The Reason that I’m Standing” by the Crabbe Family –

        sort of links in??

  6. The first song that came to mind was “Committed To The Cause Of Christ” from L5’s London project…. would that qualify? Tough topic! I imagine it would end up being a pretty heavy album.

    • In the absence of something more specific, I could see that being among the best fits.

      A heavy album? Yes, to an extent. But I could see a group tied in with Voice of the Martyrs or Bro. Andrew’s Open Doors doing it in conjunction with them.

      • “The Reason That I’m Standing” – Crabb Family.

        The song IS about trials of the faith, and though mot martyrdom specifically, there is a mention in the chorus.

      • Sorry about the duplication, WP bounced my original as a duplicate – which it wasn’t, so I submitted a shorter comment – now th original IS duplicated ๐Ÿ™

        Apologies! interesting theme indeed.

  7. The Rochesters “The Price Of A Book” is a very powerful song. It’s on their “Counting The Cost” cd
    Verse 1 says:
    An angry crowd is cheering as a man is being led
    To a stake where he’ll be bound and burned until he’s finally dead
    He sees where they are taking him yet his mind is made up still
    He knows this is the only fire he’ll ever have to fill
    (it continues to talk about how his wife, instead of renouncing the faith says… “If he goes so will I!”

    The chorus says:
    Why can’t we stand up for what they died for?
    Their every dream we take for granted every day
    The world is lost without the Gospel message
    Let’s stay true to this Book as it leads the way

    • Love the Rochesters. I actually thought of another older song of theirs, but didn’t post it because only one line in the song dealt with martyrs. In “Blessed Old Book”:

      When I think what it costs just to hold in my hand
      I’m reminded that I owe a great debt
      To all of the martyrs who’ve gone to the stake
      And quoted it with their dying breath

  8. “We Will Stand” – The Wilburns.

    The beautiful lyric contains references to first century martyrs and discusses how today’s generation should have the same boldness as those martyrs.

    I’ve heard it was the highlight of the 2001 NQC when it was sung on mainstage during the evening of the 11th.

    • I think I’ve heard the song somewhere, but it’s been quite a while. That does sound like a great fit, though.

  9. Well I know in the Dottie Rambo song best known as the performance by the Isaacs of “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothin’ But Good” it has the line:
    “History tells of Polly Carp a martyr for the gospel sake. They built a fire around his feet and tied him to a stake, but the fire would not consume him; so they pierced him with a sword. The blood ran down put out the fire but still he praised the LORD. “Now all these years I’ve served Him, He’s done me nothin’ but good. Well I won’t repent and I won’t recant just tell me why I should!?”

    I think that works LOL

    • Sure does. The words just fly past so fast in that song that I must have missed that whole verse! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

      It’s Polycarp:

      • HAH thanks, I would have gone back today and read that and had to correct it. Thanks for doing it for me…I have issues with perfection; I know its unattainable but I attempt it, as much as possible. LOL

      • No problem!