Although we don’t officially have the Pre-Lent season on the books, there’s no reason we can’t learn from that mindset and explore ways of incorporating the old wisdom of the church into modern practice.  For example, let’s consider a hymn that encapsulates something of the Pre-Lent spirit.

Come, labor on.
Who dares stand idle on the harvest plain
while all around him waves the golden grain?
And to each servant does the Master say,
“Go work today.”

Come, labor on.
The enemy is watching night and day,
To sow the tares, to snatch the seed away;
While we in sleep our duty have forgot,
He slumbered not.

Come, labor on.
Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
No arm so weak but may do service here;
By feeble agents, may our God fulfill
His righteous will.

Come, labor on.
Claim the high calling angels cannot share;
to young and old the gospel gladness bear.
Redeem the time; its hours too swiftly fly.
The night draws nigh.

Come, labor on.
No time for rest, till glows the western sky,
till the long shadows o’er our pathway lie,
and a glad sound comes with the setting sun,
“Servants, well done!”

This song links to the Gospel both on Septuagesima Sunday (Matthew 20, the parable of the successively-hired laborers in the vineyard) and on Sexagesima (Luke 8, the parable of the sower and four types of soil).  The call to join in the Lord’s labor, to bear fruit, to put in our all for Christ, is excellent preparatory thematic material to rally the troops, as it were, before the spiritual disciplines of Lent begin.

It may already be too late to appoint this hymn for your Sunday morning worship services in the next two Sundays, but there’s nothing stopping you from using it on your own and recommending it to others as a great-ready-for-Lent sort of devotion!

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