"Keep Your Lamp(s) Trimmed and Burning" is a traditional gospel blues song. It alludes to the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, found in the Gospel of Matthew at 25:1-13, and also to a verse in the Gospel of Luke, at 12:35.

The song has been attributed to Blind Willie Johnson, who recorded it in 1928; to Mississippi Fred McDowell, who recorded it in 1959; and to Reverend Gary Davis, who recorded it sometime before 1961.

The song has been included in several hymnals.[1]


The song is in call-and-response format. As is common with traditional songs, lyrics vary between performers – in this instance, often very widely. A usual first verse is:

Keep your lamp trimmed and burning, The world (or, work) is nearly done – or, The time is drawing nigh.

"The world" and "the time" relate to the apocalyptic prophecies of the New Testament. "The work" can do so also, but suggests that the song may derive from an African-Americanwork song.[citation needed]


Recordings by people with Wikipedia articles include: