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.
Archbishop Joseph Ojo

Lagos, Nigeria

Must I go an empty hand is a song that should motivate a child of God to win soul for the Kingdom.

This song was one of the songs that sent us to the streets in the early 70s to win souls for the Kingdom.

May no one who sing this song go empty hand to meet God.

Idorenyin Ime

Port Harcourt, Rivers, Nigeria

This calls for self reflection. I will do my best in winning souls. God has shown me so much love! I must work for Him!

Bishop Prince Antai

Oron, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria

That was a regular song at crusades and fellowship meetings across the country in the 1970s. Today’s church no longer sing such evangelical songs because sheep stealing instead of evangelism and soul winning have become the order in the church today.

We have diocesan evangelists retreat today. At about 4. 00 a. m the Holy Spirit inspired me to adopt “Must I go and empty handed “ as our theme song. I have not heard it sung in any church meeting in the last 25 years. It reminds me that something is not happening right in God’s church of our time. May soul winning return! May I not go empty handed to meet my Lord and Savior. Dear Lord, rekindle the revival and evangelistic fire 🔥 in me. LORD, lay some soul on my heart. Make me restless until a soul is won for your kingdom. Amen🙏.


Yenagoa, Bayelsa, Nigeria

I am indebted to Christ Jesus for his unconditional love! He Died to save me on the cross of Calvary! Forever, He will be my God ❤️I will not meet him empty handed!

Chibuike Iheanacho

Imo, Nigeria

This song has really change my life for Christ alone

David Olijogun

Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria

Must I go and empty handed. This is striking and provoking. I pray Lord.

Ted Speer

Kumasi, Ghana

I heard this song for the first time as a new convert in 1993. It touched me then and still touches my heart now. I am now a missionary Ghana, West Africa. Praise God for his Grace and mercy! To the man from Lagos who commented in this thread. Please sir, realize that God saves sinners who believe on Jesus Christ! He does not save those who forsake all their evil ways. Do you know anyone who has stopped sinning? Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. ” See also John 3:18, Romans 3:20, Gal 2:16, Titus 3:5, Eph 2:8, 9


Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria

This song is so touching, I pray to meet Jesus Christ with a souls I leaded to him.

Joshua Asima-Kirkland

Accra, Ghana

The message of this hymn is always new, and serving as a great reminder of our mission here on earth. Jn 25:14 tell us indeed, that we all have a certain might, given according to our ability, whiçh must be put to the mission. A reminder of not letting down our guard. Greatest masterpiece.

Kathryn Ann Walsh

Ada, OK, United States

We sang this song in the little Baptist Church I grew up in. I remember it was the one song We sang did it hurt my heart. I just couldn't imagine meeting Jesus face to face and not have a trophy not have a soul not having done anything in his name. He gave everything so that we could live and I wasted most of my life. But thank God for Grace thank God for mercy and he never gives up on us. I will not meet my savior empty-handed.

Once there was a young girl who fell into sin and contracted tuberculosis. She was dying in the hospital. An old servant of the Lord preached the gospel to her, telling her that the Lord Jesus had borne all her sin and persuading her to confess her sins, repent, and accept Jesus as her Savior. At first this girl resisted. She wondered how the Lord could forgive a sinner like herself. However, after she accepted the Lord, she was saved and became very happy, and peace filled her heart. After a few days, this old servant went to see her again. He was surprised to find her with a very sad face and very sorrowful. The servant asked her, "Why? Do not let Satan cheat you." She said, "No, I know that my sins have been forgiven." "Then why are you so sorrowful?" She answered sadly, "My years and days are almost finished. I am lying here, and I am about to die. When I stand in front of the Lord, the Lord may reckon me as saved. But what do I have to bring to Him? I can only tell the Lord that I have come empty-handed! How can I face my Lord with empty hands?" Truly, if the Lord takes you today, what do you have to bring to Him? Have you ever saved a soul? That is why this sister was very sad. The old servant said to her, "Sister, do not worry. I will take what you have just said and will write a song right next to your bed to encourage others to preach the gospel. In this way, all those who preach the gospel and save souls because of this song will share their rewards with you." He wrote the now well-known song: "Must I go, and empty-handed, /Thus my dear Redeemer meet?" Because of this song, many were touched to go out to preach the gospel. That is what the Lord means when He says, "I will restore to you the years/That the swarming locust has eaten, /The licking locust and the consuming locust and the cutting locust." Therefore, let us testify for Him today, serve Him, and recover the zeal which was in the beginning.

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.