Posted by: rcottrill | August 2, 2013


Words: (author unknown)
Music: Charles Davis Tillman (b. Mar. 20, 1861; d. Sept. 2, 1943)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Since 1903, this hymn text has appeared in some books crediting it to an A. C. Palmer (1845-1882), of whom nothing is known. Others give credit for the words to the composer of the tune, Charles Tillman. Still other books have attributed the words to a S.E.L. However this appears to be a short-form for Selected, another way of identifying the poem as anonymous.

We do know that the hymn originally had five stanzas, and Charles Tillman used one of them for a refrain when he composed the tune. He wrote other lyrics as well as tunes, so he is a possible source of this song, but we simply don’t know.

The original version of Tillman’s refrain, not used today, has merits of its own. It reminds us of the need for patience to “wait” God’s timing, and makes a possible allusion to Ezekiel 22:30, “I sought for a man…who would…stand in the gap.” Whether our service for God is “small or great” in the eyes of men, we need to be ready to do His will. Tillman’s refrain said:

Ready to go, ready to wait,
Ready a gap to fill;
Ready for service small or great,
Ready to do His will.

The hymn is repetitious in the extreme, repeating the word “ready” thirty-seven times (counting refrains) in one short song. However, it does make some important points along the way.

Ready. It’s a word found over eighty times in our English Bibles. Often it has a forward perspective, with the idea of making ready for something specific. However, there are other instances when the idea is that the individual or group is ready for whatever lies ahead. When King David’s son Absalom led a rebellion against his father, David fled with his trusted and loyal servants. Then:

“The king’s servants said to the king, ‘We are your servants, ready to do whatever my lord the king commands’” (II Sam. 15:15).

Here are a few examples of how the word is used in the epistles.

“So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also” (Rom. 1:15). “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (I Tim. 6:18). “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (II Tim. 4:2). “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Tit. 3:1). “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15).

Ready! It seems to me there are a number of key implications, in respect to Christian service, when a person says to God or others, “I’m ready.” The one who says that will have:

1) A sense of calling, the conviction that God is leading the way.
2 A preparation for service, with appropriate gifts and resources.
3) Conscious submission to God for what lies ahead.
4) At least some counting of the possible cost, and a willing self-sacrifice.
5) An eagerness to begin, an enthusiasm about it.
6) A trust in God for the needed guidance along the way.

CH-1) Ready to suffer grief or pain,
Ready to stand the test,
Ready to stay at home and send
Others if He sees best.

Ready to go, ready to stay,
Ready my place to fill,
Ready for service, lowly or great,
Ready to do His will.

CH-2) Ready to go, ready to bear,
Ready to watch and pray,
Ready to stand aside and give,
Till He shall clear the way.

CH-4) Ready to speak, ready to warn,
Ready o’er souls to yearn,
Ready in life, ready in death,
Ready for His return.

1) Are you “ready” to serve the Lord? What percentage of the people in your church would you estimate are ready to serve Him?

2) What are some of the things we need to do to get ready?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. We sang the song, “Ready to go, ready to stay…” for years, but I was trying to get more info on its author.

    • I wish I could be more help. It seems to be one of those old songs that will remain anonymous. Sometimes, though, readers of this blog will send along information they have. We shall see.


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