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.

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.

Imudia Jolly

Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

I always see from the song how life is short and I need to serve God while I still have the time. I love this hymn.

Steve Miller

Detroit, MI, United States

Charles Luther was initially a journalist before becoming an evangelist and eventually a Baptist minister. He wrote about 25 hymn texts. - Songs of the Spirit by Martin

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. - hymntime

Chuneze Ezenwafor

Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria

Help me heavenly to draw souls unto You in Jesus name. Amen.

Mrs V Amodu


Soul wining is a must for every Christian so that Jesus' death will not be in vain.

Trade Aina

Ikeja, Lagos

May we earnestly labour for the salvation of the lost and thus share in the burden of our Lord Jesus Christ. We all must strive for the the salvation of the lost.

Roselyn Agidi

Obalende, Lagos, Undefined

It is a must for every believer to win soul. "He that win soul is wise". May good Lord help us.


Abuja, FCT, Nigeria

This hymn pricks my heart any time I sing it and it tells me I am yet to start the race. God help me.

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.