Born in the Zhaohong Village, northwest of downtown area of Leling County, Shandong Province, China, he was educated under his uncle from his mother side, a teacher of a traditional Confucian private school in Yanshan County. At the age of 20 (1904) he began studying in the military institute founded by Lu Jianzhang at Beijing and had since become Lu's favorite. In 1912 the troops of Lu and Feng Yuxiang, now subordinate generals of Yuan Shikai, were regrouped and Feng had then been Song's superior.
In 1917, a year after being appointed the head of 1st battalion of Feng's 2nd regiment, his battalion spearheaded for removal of Zhang Xun of his imperial restoration in 1917. As Feng Yuxiang participated the Northern Expedition, he assumed in November 1927 the Chairman of Shaanxi province and in April of the same year the head of 4th division under the II Corps of the National Revolutionary Army.
Switching side to Kuomintang after the abortive coup d'etat in 1930 of Feng against Chiang Kai-shek, his troops were assigned as 29th Army and garrisoned in southern Shanxi province where he was responsible for the frontiers of the Rehe and Chahar provinces against the Japanese Manchukuo.
Song was the chairman of Chahar province when Japan invaded the provinces in the end of year 1932. Though equipped only with obsolete rifles, spears and sabres compared to the better armed Japanese, Song led the 29th army to resist the aggression in a war known as the War at the Great Wall (熱河長城之戰). Japanese troops then entered the suburbs of Beijing and Tianjin after the predictable victory. Song was relieved from post but reinstalled as commander after the Ho-Umezu agreement.
In the Battle of Lugou Bridge, his 29th Army bore the blunt of Japanese Guandong Army. His troops were halved after the defeat and chased by the Japanese along the Jinpu Railway into Shandong Province. However Han Fuqu, chairman of the province and suspected for his clandestine Japanese liaision , forbade Song to retreat across Huang he where the 29th Army was shattered at Shijiazhuang in December 1937 and January 1938. Remaining forces suffered various losses against the Imperial Japanese Army and were delegated to guerrilla combat after retreating into the mountainous regions at the borders of Henan and Shanxi province since February 1938.
See also: History of the Republic of China