Newton Arlosh Church


St John's Church at Newton Arlosh in the old English county of Cumberland resembles many other buildings in that area, a tower house, or mini castle. So close to the Scots border, over which poured regular raiders and invaders, churches had to be tough and look like they could at least appear to withstand an initial attack. Furthermore, the reivers who lived in those parts were a pretty lawless bunch, so a church that had the appearance of hardness would have done it no harm.

The rather jaunty Victorian hymn by Philip Bliss, below, captures the mood of late nineteenth-century evangelicals. Although their Church was very much on the offensive (foreign missions, vast church-going populations, social acceptance) it was also under grave attack. The ‘higher critics’ were denying scripture and the liberalism they created was infiltrating the seminaries. The Church of England was re-Romanising and the seeds of secularism were being sown. There is a sense today in which the Fort has almost fallen, at least in Britain, with just a few gallant souls willing to defend its truth and live for the King’s honour.

The times are bleak, but the gates will hold and the fort will stand, for King Jesus promised as much. 

1. Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!

Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.


“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;

Wave the answer back to heaven, “By Thy grace we will.”

2. See the mighty host advancing, Satan leading on,

Mighty ones around us falling, courage almost gone!


3. See the glorious banner waving, Hear the trumpet blow!

In our Leader’s Name we triumph over every foe.


4. Fierce and long the battle rages, but our help is near,

Onward comes our great Commander, cheer, my comrades, cheer!

-P. Bliss