Must I go, and empty-handed

“Must I go, and empty-handed,”
Thus my dear Redeemer meet?
Not one day of service give Him,
Lay no trophy at His feet?
  “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 nor falter,
For my Savior saves me now;
But to meet Him empty-handed,
Thought of that now clouds my brow.
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.
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.
Nath Isiodu

Upper Darby, PA, United States

This wonderful song on evangelism deeply touched me and the entire Church emotionally as I preached on personal evangelism. I sang this song for almost two hours in tears before the service commenced. Ruminate over the wordings! Yes a crown of fruitfulness await us in Heaven as we greet the Master with the souls we won here. I pray you never go to Heave barren. we have every opportunity to embark on personal which is the easiest and simplest way of winning souls these days.

Joy Onyekachi Nowobodo

Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

Must I go, and empty-handed, reminds me of life after death, may we not go back to Him with an empty hand, and may He gives us the grace to win souls for kingdom in JESUS NAME.

Rev. Samuel Ehimen

Austin, TX, United States

Whenever I preached on evangelism, this is the song I sing with the Church. I always shed tears. The song is very touching. I pray all that sing this song will go out for soul winning. You will not have rest until you win souls for the Master Jesus, amen.

If Jesus tarries His coming, we shall meet again.

Jesus is the answer to your problems, amen.


Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

I love how the piano is played in this site. I wish I could somehow download every song here.


Portharcaunt, Rivers, Nigeria

The song, must I go an emty handed, is a song of remenbarce for you to know, born into this world was not just coming, but you are on a message to believe and return to he who Send you. Each time I remember this song, oh brothers and sister, I feel sad and bitter.

Adefi, Adegbola Tolu

Ile Ife, Osun/Nigeria, Nigeria

I learnt this song while in High School back in the 1990s. The story behind its composition was narrated to us then. This morning, I am slated for a Gideon International message in a local church in Ipetumode near Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. I am motivated to use the story behind the song and the words of the hymn to encourage the congregation to give their service to Christ while they still may. I had to refresh my memory of the story behind the song and I searched for it. Incidentally, I came across this comment section and decided to drop this comment. Let us all give of our best and serve our Lord while we still may.

Chika Nwogwugwu

New Rochelle, New York, United States

This is one of those songs that make me wonder the type of inspiration the composers have. I thank God immensely for these composers who have touched our darkened hearts with His love. And may you as the song says, "strive for souls while still you may".


Zamboanga, Zamboanga Del Sur, Philippines

The first time I sang this hymn caused me to shed tears before the Lord. This hymn caused me to be burden for the gospel for the first time when I was studying in the university. Until now, I always keep coming back to this hymn as a reminder of laying "trophies" at the Lord's feet.

Anderson Enyindaa Woyike

London, Newham, United Kingdom

This is the truth of the gospel. As the gospel is ever new so this song will remain new. Each time I preach about song winning and witnessing for Christ, I like ending it with this song. This should be the heart cry of every Christian know that we are called for this purpose. He chose us to bear fruit and that our fruit should remain. Song inspires every Christian. I thank God for the composer and the inspiration.

Charles Adejoro

Elkton, Maryland, United States

Must I Go, and Empty Handed to Meet My Savior is an inspiring hymn and the best hymn I always play back to back every time. There is no way you listen to this hymn and it won't bring tears to your face. We need to do the work of God with passion and the whole of ourselves. Do not wait till the last day before you reach out to the world and proclaim the word of God. May God help us all in Jesus name. Amen.

We must remember that one day we will all stand before the Lord. How will we give an account of ourselves, if our hands are empty? Hymns, #930 says, "'Must I go and empty-handed,' / Thus my dear Redeemer meet? / Not one day of service give Him, / Lay no trophy at His feet?" This hymn gives a vivid description of how pricked our hearts should feel. We should not wait for others to ask whether our friends and relatives are saved. I am afraid that when God asks us, even the angels will condemn us. This understanding will change our living. In the past we had our friends and relatives over for dinner and politely laughed and conversed with them, but we never preached the gospel to them. How can we repay our debt of the gospel to them?

The story behind the writing of this hymn is very touching. A number of years ago, a certain saint was dying and was full of regret for not having brought anyone to the Lord. A servant of the Lord told this saint that he would write a hymn that would help others in the coming years to rise up to take the time while they are still living to save sinners. The matter of saving sinners is something which all of us need to seriously consider. If we were to go to meet the Lord this very day, what would our condition be related to this matter?

This hymn was written long ago in America by Charles C. Luther. It was translated into Chinese at an early date and was widely sung among Chinese Christians. The story behind this hymn concerns an American sister who lived an ordinary Christian life. While she was on her deathbed, she suddenly felt that she had failed the Lord and was ashamed to meet Him because she had not led one person to Him in her lifetime. Therefore, she was exceedingly sorrowful. Her pastor, who was Charles C. Luther, not knowing how to comfort her, wrote this hymn to express her sentiments. When I was young, every time I attended a gospel revival meeting, we would sing this hymn. The tune can easily arouse one's spirit. Even though the original Chinese translation was poor, each time after we sang the hymn, there would always be people walking up to the front in tears and consecrating themselves for the gospel.

Later when I was compiling our hymnal, I spent much time considering whether this particular hymn is suitable to be included. Because our emphasis has always been on such high topics as the Spirit, life, Christ, and the church, I felt that the content and thought of this hymn were rather ordinary and therefore did not deserve to be included. However, because I had obtained a deep impression from this hymn, I truly liked it and could not forget it. Moreover, there is something special about the tune that can easily stir up the believer's spirit for gospel preaching. Therefore, I decided to do my best to improve the translation and to include it in the hymnal.

This hymn says that when a believer dies and goes to meet the Lord, he should not be empty-handed but should offer some trophies to Him. We preach the gospel not in fear of death but because we do not want to meet the Lord empty-handed. That we are saved is not a problem, but we still need to live an overcoming life that we may have trophies to offer to the Lord. Paul said that the believers whom he led to salvation were his hope, joy, and crown of boasting before the Lord (1 Thes. 2:19-20). If when you meet the Lord, you see that everyone else is bringing a herd of lambs and you alone are empty-handed, you will feel sad and ashamed. However, if you also bring with you a good number of lambs, your feeling and joy will be indescribable.

According to this hymn, while we believers are alive, it is day, and when we die, we enter into the dark night, that is, the night of death (stanza 4). We must work while it is day, for when night comes, no one can work (John 9:4). Therefore, while it is still day, before the night falls, we should work actively to save many souls that we may bring with us to offer to the Lord. Although the spiritual meaning of this hymn is not very deep, it has its value in practicality.