"…Go work today in my vineyard" (Matt. 21.28)
INTRO.: A song which expresses the desire to go and work in the vineyard of the Lord is "I’ll Go." The text was written and the tune was composed both by Elbert V. Kelley, who was born on June 10, 1887 (some sources give the date of 1888), at Black Rock, AR, the oldest child of James R. and Lillie Moffet Kelley. In 1898 the family moved to Sabinal, TX, where Elbert attended the public schools, Sabinal Christian College, and the Dawson School of Music. Around the age of twelve, he was baptized into Christ by his father and became an outstanding song leader. For many years, he not only taught singing schools but also produced around 35 hymns, thirty of which have been published. "I’ll Go" was copyrighted in 1953 by G. H. P. Showalter, then editor of The Firm Foundation.
Among other well known hymns by Kelley are "Beyond the Sunset’s Golden Glow," copyrighted in 1924 and used in Gene C. Finley’s Our Garden of Song as Kelley’s representative song; and "Come to the Blood," copyrighted in 1959 by the Firm Foundation Publishing House. In addition, with Holland L. Boring, Sr., Kelley compiled Heart Melodies, and he also helped with the Majestic Hymnal. Remaining active in the Lord’s work for the rest of his life, he died in Dec. of 1970. Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "I’ll Go" can be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church edited by Alton H. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to the 2007 Sacred Songs for the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song reminds us of the necessity of going to others as we strive to serve the Lord.
I. Stanza 1 encourages us to go that we might seek some struggling soul
"The harvest call comes o’er the wave; I’ll go, I’ll go,
And seek some struggling soul to save. I’ll go, I’ll go."
A. The harvest call comes as Jesus pleads for laborers in the harvest: Matt. 9.35-38
B. The purpose of these laborers is to seek and save the Lord, just as Jesus came to do: Lk. 19.10
C. The reason why we should seek struggling souls is that the soul is worth more than anything else we have: Matt. 16.26
II. Stanza 2 encourages us to go that we might labor for God in the fields
"The harvest calls, the fields are white; I’ll go, I’ll go,
And labor there for God and right. I’ll go, I’ll go."
A. The harvest that calls is the natural result of sowing the seed of the kingdom: Matt. 13.3-9, 18.23
B. When the seed is thus sown, it produces fields that are white: Jn. 4.34-38
C. Therefore, God wants His people to go into the harvest and abound in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain: 1 Cor. 15.58
III. Stanza 3 encourages us to go that we might lead the lost to the light
"Lost souls are wandering in the night; I’ll go, I’ll go,
And strive to lead them to the light. I’ll go, I’ll go."
A. Those souls who live in sin are lost, just as the sheep who wandered away was lost: Lk. 15.1-7
B. Such individuals are pictured as wandering in the night of darkness: Jn. 3.19-20
C. Our goal is to lead them to the light of the world who is Jesus Christ: Jn. 8.12
CONCL.: The chorus continues to encourage us by expressing the desire to go in the Lord’s service.
"I’ll go, and press the fight Against the foe.
I’ll spread the gospel light; I’ll go, I’ll go."
I may not have the ability or the means to go into foreign fields, or even into needy areas of this country, to proclaim the gospel message of salvation. However, there are people in my own community, including neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, and such like, with whom I can share the word of God. My attitude needs to be that wherever there is an opportunity for me to help a lost soul learn the truth, "I’ll Go."