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A church hymn I hated for five years


Thoughts on Hymn #223 Have I Done Any Good?

(I've since learned to love it again, but it took a while to find balance.)

1. Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

[Chorus]
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

2. There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll try,"
But go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love's labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.

Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847-1909, alt.

James 1:22, 27

Alma 9:28


Once upon a time, I hated this song. In fact, it bothered me so much that I rewrote the chorus. I'll share that in a minute, but here's the thing: I used to give too much. I'd give and give and give until there was nothing left. I hadn't learned about self-care yet. And every time I heard this song I felt guilty for not doing more. So one year when I was falling apart, I made a new chorus:

So sleep in, and do something less

You've already done quite a lot.

Doing good is a pleasure, but pace yourself sister

Or you'll land yourself in the hospital with a nervous breakdown. (the syllables don't match and you have to speed it up...)

I've since learned to appreciate this song again, and recently I found this arrangement which is my favorite ever, featuring Alex Boye and Carmen Rasmusen Herbert. But my message for the women who take care of too many people and don't spend any time taking care of themselves is this: be wise. You can't do everything. If you're already spread too thin, PLEASE ask for help. It is not needful to run faster than you have strength. When you're on a plane and they say that in an emergency, to put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping somebody else put on theirs, it's the same principle. If you work yourself to death, you're no good to anybody else. Now go take a nap. ;)



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