The deep, dark secret of the church is that the beliefs and convictions of Christians are often shaped far more by the hymns we sing than the theological tomes gathering dust on our bookshelves. Songs are avenues for praising God, but they are also tools for imparting knowledge. Singing is a theological exercise, so the words printed in hymnbooks or flashed on screens deserve attention and reflection.

A Hymn We Sung Last Week

Till all the jails are empty
and all the bellies filled;
till no one hurts or steals or lies,
and no more blood is spilled;
till age and race and gender
no longer separate;
till pulpit, press, and politics
are free of greed and hate:
God has work for us to do.

In tenement and mansion,
in fact’ry, farm, and mill,
in boardroom and in billiard hall,
in wards where time stands still,
in classroom, church, and office,
in shops or on the street;
in every place where people thrive
or starve or hide or meet:
God has work for us to do.

By sitting at a bedside
to hold pale trembling hands,
by speaking for the powerless
against unjust demands,
by praying through our doing
and singing though we fear,
by trusting that the seed we sow
will bring God’s harvest near:
God has work for us to do.

U.S.A./Scotland and refrain

Words: Carl P. Daw, Jr., 1944–
Music: John L. Bell, 1949– ; arr. Daniel Charles Damon, 1955–
Words © 1996 Hope Publishing Company
Music © WGRG, Iona Community (admin. GIA Publications, Inc.)