Dear Friend of Hymnary,

As you know, we don't ask for money too often. But we're asking now.

So before you hit the "close" button on this box, please consider a donation to keep Hymnary going.

More than half a million people come here every month -- worship leaders, hymnologists, hymn lovers and more -- people who now have access to the most complete database of North American hymnody on the planet thanks to this site. But keeping all of this afloat does not come without a cost, and we have limited sources of revenue. So if you benefit from, would you please consider a donation today? Even small amounts help, and they also let us know you're behind us and support what we do.

You can make your tax-deductible contribution by clicking the Donate button below, or you can send a check to Hymnary at 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

On behalf of the entire Hymnary team,
Harry Plantinga

If you cannot on the ocean

Full Text

1. If you cannot, on the ocean,
sail among the swiftest fleet,
Rocking on the highest billows,
laughing at the storms you meet,
You can stand among the sailors,
anchored yet within the bay,
You can lend a hand to help them,
as they launch their boats away.

2. If you are too weak to journey
up the mountain steep and high,
You can stand within the valley,
while the multitudes go by;
You can chant in happy measure,
as they slowly pass along;
Though they may forget the singer,
they will not forget the song.

3. If you have not gold and silver
ever ready to command;
If you cannot toward the needy
reach an ever open hand;
You can visit the afflicted,
o’er the erring you can weep;
You can be a true disciple,
sitting at the Savior’s feet.

4. If you cannot, in the conflict
prove, yourself a soldier true,
If, where fire and smoke are thickest,
there’s no work for you to do;
When the battlefield is silent,
you can go with careful tread,
You can bear away the wounded,
you can cover up the dead.

5. If you cannot, in the harvest,
gather up the richest sheaves,
Many a grain both ripe and golden
oft the careless reaper leaves;
Go and glean among the briars
growing rank against the wall,
For it may be that their shadow
hides the heaviest wheat of all.

6. Do not, then, stand idly waiting,
for some greater work to do;
Fortune is a lazy goddess,
she will never come to you.
Go and toil in any vineyard,
do not fear to do or dare,
If you want a field of labor,
you can find it anywhere.

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #7805

Author: Ellen M. H. Gates

Gates, Ellen, née Huntingdon, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, is the author of several popular pieces in the American Mission and Sunday School hymn-books. Of these the following have passed from the American books into Sankey's Sacred Songs and Solos:— 1. Come home, come home, you are weary at heart. Invitation. 2. I am now a child of God. Saved through Jesus. 3. I will sing you a song of that beautiful land. Concerning Heaven. 4. O the clanging bells of time. Yearning for Heaven. 5. Say, is your lamp burning, my brother. Watching and Waiting. Concerning her poem which is used as a hymn in America, "If you cannot on the ocean" (Duty), Duffield says her account of its origin is as follows:—"The lines were written upo… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: If you cannot on the ocean
Author: Ellen M. H. Gates


[Hark, the voice of Jesus crying] (Grannis)


John Zundel's BEECHER (named after Henry Ward Beecher, his pastor) was first published in his Christian Heart Songs (1870) as a setting for Charles Wesley's "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" (568). The tune is also known as ZUNDEL. Approximating the shape of a rounded bar form (AA'BA'), BEECHER is…

Go to tune page >