Scripture Verse

As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work. John 9:4

Introduction

portrait
George C. Stebbins
1846–1945

Words: Charles C. Lu­ther, 1877.

Music: George C. Steb­bins (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a bet­ter pho­to of Lu­ther,

portrait
Charles C. Luther
1847–1924

Origin of the Song

Luther heard Rev. A. G. Up­ham tell the sto­ry of a young man who was about to die. He’d on­ly been a Chris­tian for a month, and was sad be­cause he’d had so lit­tle time to serve the Lord.

He said, I am not af­raid to die; Je­sus saves me now. But must I go emp­ty hand­ed?

This in­ci­dent prompt­ed the writ­ing of the song; Steb­bins wrote the mu­sic when Lu­ther gave him the words.

The com­plete song was first pub­lished in Gos­pel Hymns No. 3, 1878.

Compare Will I Emp­ty Hand­ed Be?

Lyrics

Must I go, and emp­ty hand­ed,
Thus my dear Re­deem­er meet?
Not one day of ser­vice give Him,
Lay no tro­phy at His feet?

Refrain

Must I go, and emp­ty hand­ed?
Must I meet my Sav­ior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him,
Must I emp­ty hand­ed go?

Not at death I shrink or fal­ter,
For my Sav­ior saves me now;
But to meet Him empty hand­ed,
Thought of that now clouds my brow.

Refrain

O the years in sin­ning wast­ed,
Could I but re­call them now,
I would give them to my Sav­ior,
To His will I’d glad­ly bow.

Refrain

O ye saints, arouse, be ear­nest,
Up and work while yet ’tis day;
Ere the night of death o’er­take thee,
Strive for souls while still you may.

Refrain