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Hymn 132 “To God be the Glory”

William Howard Doane composed hymn 132. Doane was born on February 3, 1832, in New London County, Connecticut. He was both a gifted student and a musician.
Read Time: 3 minutes

Reprinted from March 2009


William Doane was extremely successful in business and accumulated substantial wealth as he grew older. Like Frances Crosby and her husband, Doane contributed large sums of money to many worthwhile causes. He is known as an industrialist and a philanthropist.

During his life, Doane edited forty-three collections of hymns and wrote over 2,000 hymn tunes. One of his favorite hymn writers was Fanny Crosby. He died on December 23, 1915, at the age of eighty-three.


Fanny Crosby and William Doane combined their talents to write the hymn titled, “Will Jesus Find Us Watching?” Doane wrote the music, and Fanny the hymn words. The lyrics express an expectation that Jesus will return, and some Biblical details about his return. 

Verse 1 reads:

When Jesus comes to reward His servants,

Whether it be noon or night,

Faithful to Him will He find us watching,

With our lamps all trimmed and bright?

These words capture Jesus’ words about the need for lamps filled with oil when he returns, representing preparedness and watchfulness for the Lord’s return. This has been a serious and solemn lesson to all Jesus’ followers throughout the ages since his ascension to heaven.

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” “No,” they replied, “‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
Later the others also came. “Sir! Sir!” they said, “Open the door for us!” But he replied, “I tell you the truth I don’t know you.”
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matt 25:7-13).1

Verse 2 of the hymn reads:

If at the dawn of the early morning,

He shall call us one by one,

When to the Lord we restore our talents,

Will He answer thee, “Well done?”

This verse builds on the thoughts of the Parable of the Talents, in which our accountability to use the gifts God has entrusted to His servants in a wise and faithful way is described.

The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness. (Matt 25:20,21).

Verse 3 of the hymn outlines the comfort of serving God in the best way we are able. Our daily service should be loving and willing. Doing our best requires our full commitment and attention throughout each day.

Have we been true to the trust He left us?

Do we seek to do our best?

If in our hearts there is naught condemns us,

We shall have a glorious rest.

The concept of hearts void of condemnation is discussed in 1 John 3. We are very much aware of our inadequacies. We need to be equally aware of the love and mercy of our Heavenly Father and His Son:

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God. (1 John 3:19-20).

Verse 4 of the hymn stresses the need to be watching daily for Christ’s return:

Blessed are those whom the Lord finds watching,

In His glory they shall share;

If He shall come at the dawn or midnight,

Will He find us watching there?

For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything

Mark emphasizes the need for continuous and vigilant watching for Jesus’ return. We can be so easily distracted and enticed by secular interests that lead to inattention to godly service and responsibilities:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: “Watch!” (Mark 13:32-33, 35-37).


Joan and Ken Curry,
(Toronto East Ecclesia, ON)

1 All Scriptural citations are taken from the New International Version.

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