The series “Then Sings My Soul: The Hymns of My Youthâ€? continues this Sunday with “Take Time to be Holy” by William D. Longstaff. Longstaff was a friend of Salvation Army founder William Booth. A number of Longstaff’s hymns were published in War Cry, the Salvation Army’s hymnal in the 1880’s. This hymn, for me, doesn’t really fit the theme of a “war cry” though — not unless one sees one’s warfare extremely differently from the common view. On one level, it looks like yet another set of directives for the Christian life — something I eschew more and more these days as misguided legalism. But it isn’t that kind of directive… it’s a simple exhortation essentially without grandiose promises or dire warnings. The tune to the song suggests that it’s anything but hype. Whatever else could be said, the advice it gives is wise. I remember it as a kid, when “holiness” was a rather lofty goal not likely to be achieved… but the song just says to take time for it, as if the practice of holiness were an everyday regular feat to be achieved, and cultivated. Brother Lawrence would be proud.

Take Time to be Holy
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

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