TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY written in 1882
William Longstaff (1822-1894) never considered himself a hymn-writer. In fact, “Take Time to Be Holy” may have been the only poem he ever wrote.
The son of a wealthy ship merchant, William as treasurer of his church and gave liberally to Christian causes. When evangelists Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sankey came to England, he supported their ministry financially, and he also wrote reports of their crusade meetings for the Christian newspapers.
A few years after those meetings, William heard a sermon the text, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:6)… and he wrote down what holiness meant to him. A businessman at heart, William wrote no flowery or pious-sounding verses; he simply wrote practical, down-to-earth instructions.
His poem appeared in a Christian newspaper in 1882 and was quickly forgotten by most. But, years later, gospel composer George Stebbins (1846-1945), who was leading music in India for evangelistic services there, remembered this poem when he was asked if he knew any good hymns about living a holy life. He retrieved the newspaper clipping he had saved… the one that had William’s poem written on it; he then set that poem to music. It became this hymn.
Read this hymn, and – today – take time to focus on holiness.
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 thy 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.