Classic Hymns–“Take Time to Be Holy”

Take Time to
Be Holy

Text: William D. Longstaff, 1822-1894
Music: George
C. Stebbins, 1846-1945

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 the 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.


William Dunn Longstaff, United Kingdom 1822-1894. Born at Sunderland,
Durham, England, the son of a wealthy ship owner, he was a person of independent
financial means. Although Longstaff had everything he desired, he still had an
empty feeling in his life, and attended church one day and was inspired by words
of a China missionary, Griffith John, on furlough to England, preaching at a
service in Keswick, England, citing I Peter 1:16, “Be ye holy, for I am holy”.
That resulted in him giving his heart to the Lord and beginning a Christian
life, dedicated to God. He became a generous philanthropist and was influential
in evangelical circles.

He married Joice Burlinson in 1853 and they had eight
children: William, Hannah, Rhoda, Amelia, Ernest, Nora, Marnia, and Minnie.
Longstaff befriended well-known evangelists, including William Booth of the
Salvation Army, to whose work he generously contributed. Some of Langstaff’s
hymns were published in the Salvation Army magazine, “The War Cry” during the
1880s. He also financed Dwight Moody’s evangelical crusades in England and
Scotland when Moody’s funding dried up after their financier died. During the
crusade they preached to 20,000 people. Longstaff did not forget that first
sermon he heard, and it prompted the writing of his hymn lyrics, which he later
showed to Ira Sankey during their crusade. Sankey showed it to George Stebbins,
who set it to music in 1882 during a revival in India. In 1881 Longstaff’s wife
died. He died at Sunderland, England.

2 responses to “Classic Hymns–“Take Time to Be Holy”

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