What We Can Do

Representative Text

1 We are but little children weak,
Nor born in any high estate;
What can we do for Jesus' sake,
Who is so high, and good, and great!

2 When deep within our swelling heart
The thoughts of pride and anger rise,
When bitter words are on our tongues,
And tears of passion in our eyes

3 Then we may stay the angry blow,
Then we may check the hasty word,
Give gentle answers back again,
And fight a battle for our Lord.

4 With smiles of peace and looks of love
Light in our dwellings we may make,
Bid kind good humour brighten there,
And still do all for Jesus' sake.

5 There's not a child so small and weak
But has his little cross to take,
His little work of love and praise
That he may do for Jesus' sake.

Source: Methodist Hymn and Tune Book: official hymn book of the Methodist Church #589

Author: Cecil Frances Alexander

As a small girl, Cecil Frances Humphries (b. Redcross, County Wicklow, Ireland, 1818; Londonderry, Ireland, 1895) wrote poetry in her school's journal. In 1850 she married Rev. William Alexander, who later became the Anglican primate (chief bishop) of Ireland. She showed her concern for disadvantaged people by traveling many miles each day to visit the sick and the poor, providing food, warm clothes, and medical supplies. She and her sister also founded a school for the deaf. Alexander was strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement and by John Keble's Christian Year. Her first book of poetry, Verses for Seasons, was a "Christian Year" for children. She wrote hymns based on the Apostles' Creed, baptism, the Lord's Supper, the Ten Commandment… Go to person page >


We are but little children poor [weak]. Cecil F. Alexander, née Humphreys. [Holy Baptism.] Published in Dr. Hook's Leeds Church Sunday School Hymn Book, 1850, in 9 stanzas of 4 lines. It is in use, sometimes abbreviated, in its original form; as "We are but little children weak” in the 1868 Appendix to Hymns Ancient & Modern, and numerous other collections; and as, “O Lord, the Holy Innocents" (st. ii.), in the American Protestant Episcopal Hymnal, 1871. In these various forms it is in extensive use.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



The Cyber Hymnal #7089
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The Cyber Hymnal #7089

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