The Christian Fight Song

Hail to the Victors. Victory March. On Brave Old Army. The Aggie War Hymn.

You would probably recognize some of these iconic college fight songs even if you’re not a big sports fan. Fight songs instill pride, confidence, and emotion in fans, uniting fans and players against their foes. Even without Lloyd Carr there as coach, I still get chills when I hear the Michigan marching band play “Hail to the Victors” after a Wolverine touchdown.

But there is one fight song that transcends them all, at least in R.C. Sproul’s eyes:

“In its inception, the Gloria Patri functioned as a type of fight song, a rallying cry for orthodox Christianity. That original function has been lost through the passing of time so that it is now used as a liturgical response. We no longer sense the extraordinary significance of ascribing glory to Christ.”

R.C. explains that in the fourth century, when the Arians were denying the Trinity generally and the divinity of Christ specifically, Arians would sing degrading, insulting songs to Trinitarians across the river. Christians responded with their own fight songs, one of which has lasted to this day as the Gloria Patri. You can listen to a minute-long clip of R.C. explaining the Christian’s fight song here.

How will you sing the Gloria Patri? As a joyless, mindless, rote close to the service, relieved that you can finally go home and watch football? Or as a passionate exclamation of Christ’s eternal glory with the Father and the Spirit?

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost!
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
World without end. Amen.
Orthodox icon of the Council of Nicea

In a similar vein, the Nicene Creed was birthed out of the same controversies denying Christ’s divinity. Blood was shed over this incredibly important time in the church. The Nicene Creed is my favorite creed, and should be said with similar sentiment as the Gloria Patri: with conviction and gusto! A hint of defiance is acceptable as well.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
   Maker of heaven and earth,
   of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God,
   begotten of the Father before all worlds;
   God of God,
   Light of Light,
   very God of very God;
   begotten, not made,
   being of one substance with the Father,
   by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation,
   came down from heaven,
   and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary,
   and was made man;
   and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
   He suffered and was buried;
   and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
   and ascended into heaven,
   and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
   and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead;
   whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
   the Lord and Giver of life;
   who proceedeth from the Father and the Son;
   who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
   who spake by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
   I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
   and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
   and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

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