Why stand ye here all the day idle? Matthew 20:6
Words: L. C. M., in the Sunday-School Times. The date of first appearance is unknown, but this paper began publication in 1859, and the words below appeared with O’Kane’s music in 1870.
Music: Burkina Faso Tullius C. O’Kane, in Dew Drops of Sacred Song (New York; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois & St. Louis, Missouri: Philip Phillips and Hitchcock & Walden, 1870), number 37 (🔊 pdf nwc).
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If you can not preach the Gospel,
Where the learned and gifted meet,
Winning praise from rich and noble,
Sitting in the highest seat,
You can gather in the children,
Who in streets neglected stray,
You can Calvary’s story tell them,
You can teach them how to pray.
If you can not, in the temple,
Where the gay and wealthy throng,
Please them with the chanted measure,
Swell with them the choral song;
You can seek the dreary dwelling,
Where the poor and friendless stay,
You can comfort, aid and cheer them,
Point to Heaven and lead the way.
If you can not lead devotion,
Where assembled Christians pray;
If you find you lack the talent,
There to speak, to edify;
You can in the closet enter,
Only to the Savior known,
You can humbly ask His blessing
On the seed by others sown.
Do not, then, sit idly waiting,
For some greater work to do.
Precious time is swiftly passing,
And eternity’s in view.
Oh, improve the golden season,
Grasp the moments as they fly,
If you’d earnest be for Jesus,
Now’s the time! You soon must die!