"DON’T YOU WANT TO BE READY?"
"…Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 4.7)
INTRO.: A song which indicates that sinners should respond to the invitation today because Jesus wants us to be ready to meet Him is "Don’t You Want to Be Ready?" (#609 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written and the tune (Ready to Go) was composed both by Franklin Lycurgus Eiland (1860-1909). A member of the church of Christ, Eiland is perhaps best remembered for his melody used with Jennie Wilson’s hymn "Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand," and a song for which he provided both words and melody, "From the Cross to the Crown," has been fairly well known also. Other songs by him, including "Beautiful Gleanings Bring," "Lean on His Arm," and "Too Late," have appeared in some of our more recent books as well.
"Don’t You Want to Be Ready?" was copyrighted in 1895. Notes in some recent books say that the copyright was renewed in 1935 by Eiland’s son, Knowles Shaw Eiland. However, a song copyrighted in 1895 should have been renewed in 1923. If the renewal was 1935, the original copyright would normally have been 1907. I do not know if some kind of lapse was allowed, but usually if a copyright was not renewed in 28 years from the date of the original, the work was considered in the public domain. In 1947, either the copyright passed to the Stamps-Baxter Music Co., or else Stamps-Baxter made a new arrangement of it and copyrighted that, a practice in which they have been known to engage.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century, the song appeared in the 1940 Praise and Revival Songs and the 1952 Hymns of Praise and Devotion both edited by Will W. Slater; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by Robert C. Welch. The chorus only appeared in the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater. Today, the song is found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1999 Into Our Hands, a collection of songs "either authored, composed, or arranged by members of the Churches of Christ" (it includes seven by Eiland), edited by Leland R. Fleming; in addition to Sacred Selections; and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song urges the sinner to take the opportunity at hand to obey the gospel and be saved.
I. Stanza 1 mentions the Savior’s invitation to hear
"O, there is a time when the message will come,
Don’t you want to be ready to go?
O, sinner, the Savior invites you today;
Will you hear and be ready to go?"
A. The message that will come is that which encourages us to be ready: Matt. 24.44
B. The Savior invites us to receive His rest that we might be ready: Matt. 11.28-30
C. In order to be ready to go, we must hear Him: Matt. 13.9
II. Stanza 2 mentions the home and crown that are awaiting those who come
"Today is the day of salvation for all;
Can you say you are ready to go?
A home and a crown is [are?] awaiting for thee;
Will you come and be ready to go?"
A. Because we do not have assurance of the future, today is the day of salvation: 2 Cor. 6.2
B. God holds out the hope of a crown of righteousness to encourage us to be ready: 2 Tim. 4.6-8
C. In order to be ready to go, we must respond to the invitation to come: Rev. 22.17
III. Stanza 3 mentions the Savior’s pleading for us to be ready
"O, yes, there’s a time when the message will come,
Are you willing and ready to go?
This moment the Savior is pleading for thee;
Sinner, say, are you ready to go?"
A. The message that will come also involves the fact that someday our souls will be required of us: Lk. 12.20
B. While life lasts, the Savior continues to plead with the lost, beseeching them through His inspired word to be reconciled to God: 2 Cor.5.20
C. While all people need to be ready, He especially pleads with sinners to be cleansed: Jas. 4.8
CONCL.: The chorus reminds us of the importance of being ready to go.
"Ready to go, Ready to go,
Don’t you want to be ready to go?
Ready to go, Ready to go,
Don’t you want to be ready to go?"
As Christians proclaim the message of Jesus Christ with the good news of salvation through His blood, we should keep asking each other as well as those who are lost in sin, "Don’t You Want to Be Ready?"