Come, Labor On

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Come, labor on, Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain

Author: Jane Borthwick (1859, 1863)
Published in 71 hymnals

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Representative Text

1 Come, labor on.
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain
while all around us waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
"Go work today."

2 Come, labor on.
Claim the high calling angels cannot share;
to young and old the gospel gladness bear.
Redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.

3 Come, labor on.
Cast off all gloomy doubt and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here.
Though feeble agents, may we all fulfill
God's righteous will.

4 Come, labor on.
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
till the long shadows o'er our pathway lie,
and a glad sound comes with the setting sun,
"Well done, well done!"

Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #719

Author: Jane Borthwick

Miss Jane Borthwick, the translator of this hymn and many others, is of Scottish family. Her sister (Mrs. Eric Findlater) and herself edited "Hymns from the Land of Luther" (1854). She also wrote "Thoughts for Thoughtful Hours (1859), and has contributed numerous poetical pieces to the "Family Treasury," under the signature "H.L.L." --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872.… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Come, labor on, Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain
Title: Come, Labor On
Author: Jane Borthwick (1859, 1863)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Matt. 20:6-7
st. 2 = Matt. 13:24-26, Ps.121:3-4
st. 3 = John 4:34
st. 4 = Eph. 5:16
st. 5 = Matt. 25:21

Jane L. Borthwick (b. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1813; d. Edinburgh, 1897) wrote this text and published it in her Thoughts for Thoughtful Hours (1859) in seven, six-line stanzas. Borthwick revised the text into its present five-line form and published that version in her Thoughts for Thoughtful Hours of 1863. The Psalter Hymnal includes stanzas 1, 2, 4, and 6 from her revised version.

Inspired by the gospel parables that liken the coming of God's kingdom to the sowing of seed and harvesting of grain (see Matt. 9:37-38; Matt. 13; John 4:35-38), the text calls us to work for God's cause even in the face of Satan's opposition. Because our earthly time is limited, we must use our resources wisely and be diligent in our kingdom tasks until we hear the final “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).

Borthwick was a member of the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland and had a strong interest in the church's mission work. She also supported Moravian missions in Labrador, Canada, and was involved in social service work in Edinburgh. Both Jane and her younger sister Sarah Findlater Borthwick (PHH 333) are well-known translators of German chorales.

Liturgical Use:
Ordination for church offices and for missionaries (although this text applies to all of God's people, not only to church workers); many occasions of worship that focus on our task in the world and in missions; profession of faith; at the beginning of a church season.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook
Come, labour on! Who dares, &c. Jane Borthwick. [Labour for Christ.] This hymn was given in Miss Borthwick's Thoughts for Thoughtful Hours, 1859, in 7 stanzas of 5 lines, but in the new edition of 1863, p. 48, it was re-arranged as 7 stanzas of 5 lines, and in this form it has come into common use in many hymnals, including Thring, the Hymnal Companion, Snepp, &c, and a few American collections.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



T. (Thomas) Tertius Noble (b. Bath, England, 1867; d. Rockport, MA, 1953) composed ORA LABORA for Borthwick's text when it was accepted in 1916 for inclusion in the Episcopal hymnal, on whose commission Noble served. ORA LABORA, which means "pray and work," was also published in The New Hymnal of 19…

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ORA, LABORA (Stewart)



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Instances (1 - 12 of 12)
Text InfoTextFlexScoreAudioPage Scan

Glory to God #719

Hymns of the Christian Life #474

Hymns of the Saints #384


New English Praise #632

Text InfoTune InfoTextAudio

Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #526

TextPage Scan

Rejoice in the Lord #75


Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #357

The Christian Life Hymnal #354


The Cyber Hymnal #1037

TextPage Scan

The Hymnal 1982 #541

TextPage Scan

The New Century Hymnal #532


The Presbyterian Hymnal #415

Include 59 pre-1979 instances
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