Listed for the Connaught Rangers (1878)

Listed for the Connaught Rangers was painted by Lady Elizabeth Butler (1846-1933) in 1878, and is displayed at Bury’s municipal Art Museum. Butler enjoyed painting military scenes, which may be a salute to her husband, who was an Irishman and a Major. Here we see a recruiting sergeant and two young Irishmen who have accepted Queen Victoria’s shilling, walking off to their new barracks to be sworn in and properly kitted, trained and sent off to whichever part of the empire they were destined to go. One recruit looks back, the other marches on, though with a look of tacit resignation as he smokes his pipe, hands in pockets. I suspect the two have enlisted for want of alternative employment rather than any particular love of military service or Britain's imperial glory.

A great contrast exists between the scarlet of the sergeant's and drummer boys’ tunics and the new recruits’ plain, homespun garments. Interestingly, they appear to wear red-coloured undershirts, suggesting that they might look like unemployed farm labourers from without, but they are very much soldiers within. Apart from the underclothes, they have red, white and blue ribbons in their caps, like the accompanying soldiers’, a token symbol of the attire, training and discipline that the new recruits shall receive in due course.

We Christians sadly lack the complete outward show of our glorious calling. Our bodies look as much a part of this fallen world as anyone else’s, and our attitudes are not yet in complete submission to Christ’s, while our gaits look rather less like our Recruiter’s than they ought. Yet we are given sufficient training, drill and practice by the Holy Spirit and God’s word as we need, so that when the day of battle comes, we shall be found ready. When the great victory is won, we shall be inspected and commended by our Commanding Officer, and rewarded appropriately. Though many of us are raw recruits, we are still a part of the King's Own Regiment, and are engaged in royal service. 

Soldiers of Christ, arise,
and put your armour on,
strong in the strength which God supplies
thro' his eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts,
and in his mighty pow'r,
who in the strength of Jesus trusts
is more than conqueror.

Stand then in his great might,
with all his strength endued;
but take, to arm you for the fight,
the panoply of God.
Leave no unguarded place,
no weakness of the soul;
take ev'ry virtue, ev'ry grace,
and fortify the whole.

To keep your armour bright,
attend with constant care;
still walking in your Captain's sight,
and watching unto prayer.
From strength to strength go on;
wrestle and fight and pray;
tread all the pow'rs of darkness down,
and win the well-fought day.

-Charles Wesley