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.
Shola Aribido

Port Harcourt, Rivers, Nigeria

I've been listening to this song, but today I understand deeply the meaning of the song. May God bless the composers and count all of us worthy of heaven with sheaves (souls) to meet our Saviour at last in Jesus name, Amen!

Onyenanu Ikechi Christiana

Owerri, Imo, Nigeria

I have been singing this hymn for a while now. I really dont want to meet my Saviour empty handed. One hymn we love to sing in deeper life always.

Freeman Awuittor Mensah

Accra, Ghana

Way back in 1990s in Senior High Education when I knew I was born again, this was the son I used to sing even though I was imperfect in it. It was a song one deeper life Pastor sang in Church and I could not control myself though I was newly born again. Till now beloved, it is a song I sing on daily bases to remind of my duties for my Savior even on earth. Any time I sing it I'm dully remanded of my work on earth for the Lord. May God continue to bless the generation of the composer.

Goodles James

Kaduna, Nigeria

I can't stop crying when this song keeps reminding me that I will MEET my Saviour one day how will it be that I have been born again since but I don't have any soul to meet Him with. OH GOD SHOW ME MERCY.


Jos, Plateau, Nigeria

"Must I go, and empty-handed" is a classical hymn with an eternal message so strong and powerful. It makes me think deep knowing that I will someday soon give account of my journey on earth.

God bless the composer!

Gary Waddell

Hartsville, TN, United States

Oh what a strong and powerful song of conviction to believers. How we have lost the appetite to go out and "preach the gospel" as Christ commanded us to do. The song is now considered 'old fashioned' and does not even appear in most hymnals but the message is so vivid. AW Tozer did a short piece on "spiritual warfare" which describes many professing Christians in today's time. We as followers of Christ must awaken and preach the simple gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the world. Time is short and the lost are all around us. Praise God for allowing me to see this beautiful song again and praise God for the men and women preaching His word to all peoples of this earth. May GOD bless each of you abundantly for your willingness and faithfulness. I am blessed by the response of some of the messages people have left about this song / message.

Osuagwu Henry Okechukwu

Mbaise, Imo, Nigeria

Must I Go Empty Handed? This Hymn brought a turning point in my life. Tears amidst joy because am alive to serve my God and not dead in ignorance or sin.

Ken Adibe Nwafor

Abakaliki, Ebonyi, Nigeria

This song has touched my life so many times especially each when I reflect on the circumstance under which this song was composed. A sick man who was confirmed by medical doctors that he was to die in a couple of hours; and on that sick bed awaiting death, an evangelist came and preached the word of God to him and he gave his life to Christ, but it was too late for him to render services to God because he was just at the gate of death. Out of his regrets and remorse he wept 'must I go an empty handed, not one day of service to give my saviour'. The good thing however is that he did not eventually go empty handed because this his song has led to winning of many souls for Christ. The question is rather for you and I 'must you, must I go an empty handed'? Let's talk about this when we meet by and by.

Chinedu Sunday

Aba, Abia, Nigeria

This hymn moves my nerves to the work of soul winning! I need great passion for souls.

Victor Chinecherem Umah

Port Harcourt, River, Nigeria

This song must I go and empty handed, is a touching song that can melt a Stony heart, it moved me for personal evangelism because it reminds me of eternity, a day will come when we shall meet our savior, are we going to meet him with nothing.

Every believer must know that a day of judgement is coming, it could come now unannounced, what will be our report to our creator? May God help us to meet Him prepared 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.