1. Work, for the night is coming, work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling, work ‘mid springing flow’rs.
Work when the day grows brighter, work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming, when man’s work is done.

2. Work, for the night is coming, work through the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labor, rest comes sure and soon.
Give every flying minute, something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming, when man works no more.

3. Work, for the night is coming, under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing, work, for daylight flies.
Work till the last beam fadeth, fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is dark’ning, when man’s work is o’er.

4. Work, for the day is coming! Children of light are we;
From Jesus’ bright appearing, pow’rs of darkness flee.
Soon will our strife be ending, soon all our toils below,
Not to the dark we’re tending, but to day we go.


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This hymn is based on the following words of Jesus:

John 9
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work.

There are a few details about the author of the text scattered on various websites.

From scriptureandmusic.com:

Annie L. Coghill, 1836–1907
This hymn was written in 1854 by an eighteen year-old Canadian girl, Annie Louisa Walker. Annie later married a wealthy merchant, Harry Coghill, in 1883. Her poem was first published in a Canadian newspaper and later in her own book, “Leaves From the Back Woods.” Mrs. Coghill eventually attained prominence as a poet and author, producing several volumes.

From hymnopedia.com:

The author’s text is found in her “Oak and Maple,” 1890. Her occasional poems printed in various Canadian newspapers were gathered together and published in 1859 in a volume titled “Leaves from the Backwoods.” In 1898 Mrs. Coghill edited and published the “Autobiography and Letters” of her cousin, Mrs. Oliphant.

From sermonaudio.com:

She was born in England, but later lived in Canada, and it was while in Canada in 1854 that the hymn was written, probably under the sense of the pioneering necessity of work, and more work, which helped to lay the foundations of Canada in the late nineteenth century.

It is said that she disliked Lowell Mason’s setting of her song, but his vigorous music has helped to give “Work, for the Night is Coming” a firm tread which goes well with the words.

The first three verses are traditional. The fourth verse was added later, and seems to be from another similar poem. I could only find one reference to it, and it is also credited to Annie Coghill, but I’m not certain this is correct. Here is the other poem, from which the fourth verse is extracted (from hymnal.net):

1. Work, for the Day is coming,
    Day in the Word foretold,
When, ‘mid the scenes triumphant,
    Longed for by saints of old,
He, who on earth a stranger
    Traversed its paths of pain,
Jesus, the Prince, the Savior,
    Comes evermore to reign.

2. Work, for the Day is coming,
    Darkness will soon be gone;
Then o’er the night of weeping
    Day without end shall dawn.
What now we sow in sadness
    Then we shall reap in joy;
Hope will be changed to gladness,
    Praise be our blest employ.

3. Work, for the Day is coming,
    Made for the saints of light;
Off with the garments dreary,
    On with the armor bright:
Soon will the strife be ended,
    Soon all our toils below;
Not to the dark we’re tending,
    But to the Day we go.

4. Work, for the Lord is coming,
    Children of light are we;
From Jesus’ bright appearing
    Powers of darkness flee.
Out of the mist, at His bidding,
    Souls like the dew are born:
O’er all the East are spreading
    Tints of the rosy morn.

5. Work, then, the Day is coming,
    No time for sighing now;
Prize for the race awaits thee,
    Wreaths for the victor’s brow.
Now morning Light is breaking,
    Soon will the Day appear;
Night shades appall no longer,
    Jesus, our Lord, is near.

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