Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The reference is to Luke 12:35 ff., Christ’s parable in Matthew 25:1-13, and the exhortations of Paul in I Thessalonians 5:1-11.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The entire spirit of this song is expectancy and readiness, cultivated by the awareness that the “time is drawing nigh” and Jesus Christ will soon return and bring the final consummation. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 57 declares: “We live confidently, anticipating his coming, offering him our daily lives – our acts of kindness, our loyalty, and our love—knowing that he will weave even our sins and sorrows into his sovereign purpose.”

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Introductory/Framing Text

Many African American spirituals are based on themes from the Hebrew Scriptures. This one, however, is based on the New Testament parable of the bridesmaids, found in Matthew 25:1-13.
This spiritual is possibly one of the code songs in which to keep one’s lamp “trimmed and burning” could have meant keeping a lookout for a conductor of the underground railroad, such as Harriet Tubman.
By tradition, a leader may call out substitute words for the refrain, such as “Christians don’t grow weary, Christians don’t grow weary,…” etc., or “people,” “preacher,” or any other words that may be appropriate.

The New Century Hymnal Companion, Pilgrim Press, 1998, p. 396
— New Century Hymnal Companion

Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Tune Information

f minor


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