Children’s Song: Keep Your Lamps

In honor of the very long night we endured at the Powell house last night, our first song for little people here on Wednesday Grace is the traditional spiritual “Keep Your Lamps.”

As best as I can tell, it originated in the 20th century, and isn’t actually one of the Negro work songs of the 19th century, just in the same character. I learned it at St. Olaf when the massed choirs learned the arrangement by Andre Thomas and from that time on my roommate and I quoted it to each other all the time as an encouragement not to grow weary of well-doing.

Keep your lamps trimmed and burning
For the time is drawing nigh.

Pilgrim, don’t get weary
Till your work is done.

Christian journey soon be over
The time is drawing nigh.

Keep your lamps trimmed and burning
The time is drawing nigh.

A recording done by the St. Olaf Choir is track 8 on Songs From My Heart : Choral Music Of André Thomas.

Stay dressed and ready for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master come home.” —Luke 12:35-36

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