This is the installment in my series of "litany hymns for times in the Christian life" that has to do with the greater part of the typical person's life: work. I could have called it a "labor hymn," but I've already written one; I could also have called it a "vocation hymn," but I've already written one. So, it is what it is. And what its tune is, is a more-or-less original melody titled VINEYARD. It is inspired, in part, by the "laborers in the vineyard" parable in Matthew 20, and in part by select verses of Ecclesiastes 9. And yes, I know it's 11 stanzas. But it's a litany, you know? Go with it.
Help us work while it is light,
And to do with all our might
What becomes our calling.
For the grave no power knows,
Nor the fruit of wisdom grows;
One man reaps, another sows,
In this age of folly.
Yet, though time and death destroy
All we build, and woes annoy,
Help us nonetheless enjoy
What You give us daily.
Let us take, with merry heart,
Good supply that You impart;
Knowing, from creation’s start,
You declared us pleasing.
Though with sin our work is fraught,
Bring its reign in us to naught;
Cleanse us of its crimson spot
Through Christ’s dying labor.
As, in office, shop, or field,
Wares we sell or service yield,
Plowshare pull or weapon wield,
Help us love our neighbor.
As Your vineyard’s workers, we
Yearn the eventide to see,
When the late-hired hand will be
Long day’s wages given.
What more can be said or done?
“It is finished,” cried God’s Son;
Love’s reward, for sinners won,
God dispenses freely.
May we, therefore, watch and pray,
Work with Christ while it is day,
And when all things pass away,
Gather in Your vintage.
Then no more shall worry spoil,
Sorrow taint, or envy soil
Heaven’s rest, the new earth’s toil;
Death and sin shall perish.
Yet a little while, we view
This life’s empty striving through
Christ, who has made all things new.
Come again, Lord, quickly!