Amazing Grace: 366 Hymn Stories

October 10

Annie L. Coghill, 1836–1907
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)
Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.
—Phillips Brooks
Diligence is a law of life. We are to put forth our very best effort into whatever work God gives us to do. For the Christian, every occupation is sacred when it is done for God’s glory. What counts in God’s sight is not only the actual work we do, but the attitude with which we do it. The story is told of three men who worked on a large church building, all doing similar tasks. When asked what they were doing, one replied, “I’m making mortar.” Another, “I’m helping put up this great stone wall.” The third, “I’m building a cathedral for God’s glory.” The right attitude makes all the difference.
This hymn, which emphasizes the joy and dignity of work, especially Christian service, was written in 1854 by an 18 year-old Canadian girl, known then as Annie Louise Walker. (Annie married a wealthy merchant, Harry Coghill, in 1883.) Her poem was first published in a Canadian newspaper and later in her own book, Leaves From the Back Woods. Mrs. Coghill eventually attained prominence as a poet and author, producing several volumes which enjoyed wide circulation.
Philosophers and writers have made many profound statements about the intrinsic value of labor; but none has been able to state more simply and meaningfully the joy of being coworkers with God in worthy labor than has Annie Louise Coghill in this hymn text:
Work, for the night is coming. Work thru the morning hours; work while the dew is sparkling; work ’mid springing flow’rs. Work when the day grows brighter. Work in the glowing sun; work for the night is coming, when man’s work is done.
Work, for the night is coming. Work thru the sunny noon; fill brightest hours with labor—rest comes sure and soon. Give ev’ry flying minute something to keep in store; work for the night is coming when man works no more.
Work, for the night is coming under the sunset skies: While their bright tints are glowing, work, for daylight flies. Work till the last beam fadeth, fadeth to shine no more; work, while the night is dark’ning, when man’s work is o’er.

    For Today: Psalm 128:1, 2; Proverbs 6:6; 10:4; Isaiah 21:11; 61:1–3; Romans 10:14,15; Galatians 6:9

John Wesley once said: “Never be unemployed and never be triflingly employed.” See your work as a sacred trust from God. Use this musical reminder—

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