88 thoughts on “A Hymn for Labor Day”

  1. Fourth!

    I now have this song stuck in my head, and I didn’t even watch it. Just the title was enough to bring back memories of the one of those family singing groups performing this one. Thanks Darrell.

  2. Was that a Music Minister? It was. Wasn’t it? Know how I could tell? He was ministering the music.
    All my years in our church and we’ve never had anyone to stand up front and wave their hands at us while singing. How have we lasted?

    1. I remember the first time I went to a non-fundy church, and there wasn’t a song leader. No waving hands, just followed the organ/choir. Did he actually think he was leading?

    2. I have yet to see a fundy song leader who actually did more than tell the congregation what verse to sing next, or which verse to only have the women and children sing.

      As usual, in this video the piano player is doing his/her own thing and pushing through the song faster than the hands are waving.

  3. Working for Jesus on Labor Day must be a thing, judging by some fundy facebook posts. This song is like “Obedience is the very best way to show that you believe” for adults. Because kids are supposed to obey and adults are supposed to….hey, new Mythbusters

  4. I still remember the first time I heard a pastor preach that it wasn’t good for families to be at church every night. I remember almost falling out of my pew (he wasn’t Fundy, either). He suggested Sunday morning and one activity during the week were probably sufficient, and that dedicated family time was as important, if not more important, than church time. Church “work” wasn’t the most important task in the world. It was a relief for me.

    1. People got offended when my husband canceled services/events at church. Apparently, for a lot of them, church WAS their social life, and they didn’t want to be home or in the community.

      1. People are so ingrained with the idea that they have to go to church three times a week that if one service it cancelled they feel a moral and ethical distress. After all, God will be displeased and a terrible calamity will befall them. It’s NEVER ok to miss church unless your sick or you have to work. After all, what if that was the ONE sermon that God spoke to your heart and called you to be a missionary! You will have completely missed your calling for LIFE because of that one failure.

        1. Having to work is never an exception. If your job forces you to miss Sundays or Wednesday nights, it’s God’s will for you to find a different job. You can get away with it for years though by displaying much sorrow that you have to work every other Sunday and making it a permanent fixture on the prayer request list that God will provide you with a different job that will allow you to be faithful in attendance.
          Eventually gid “answers” this prayer with a lower-paying job that barely allows you to make ends meet. Then not only can you attend all services, but you also get to be a martyr.
          “Look at Brother so-and-so suffering for Christ! He gave up his benefits and took a $30K pay cut to be faithful to the Lord!”
          They’ll use you as an illustration to the church youth for the next 20 years of someone who has his priorities in order.

        2. My friend the nurse used to say, after a pastoral rant about working on Sunday, that she hoped our MOG never got sick or had his house burning on a Sunday morning, with everyone at church.

      2. Several years ago at our current church (before we began attending there), they had to impose a time limit on trustee meetings. Apparently some of the guys enjoyed that time as their monthly social outing, and meetings would sometimes last 3 or 4 hours.

        1. I worked at a Christian non-profit 20 years ago where our Monday a.m. staff meetings usually didn’t get started until 9 (and were supposed to start at 8). Then, after all the “fellowshipping”, it often lasted well past lunch. A couple of us finally squeaked to admin, and they got a little better. It was mostly social, and it was drove me a bit batty was we spent so much time together anyway! (and, yes, I am very task-oriented…)

  5. “You don’t work, you don’t eat.”

    That’s what my former fundy CEO loves to repeat…over and over and over and over and over again.

    I guess that what he means is that if you don’t work for his church (occasionally he’ll mention Jesus), he won’t feed you with his delicious, meaty, sermons. That’s funny. I always likened them to eating used coffee grounds (angry and bitter) and grass clippings (that which has already repeatedly been walked over).


    1. And to confirm my notion I checked out this mornings rant and share with you the following introduction:

      “Well, this weekend is known as labor day weekend. And that’s why I chose that hymn right there, “ Work for the Night is Coming,” in fact, I’ll be making reference to the verse that is listed in the top of that hymn. But to start with I’d like you to Genesis chapter 2…”

      Dare I transcribe anymore? It does get better.

    2. “You don’t work, you don’t eat” Yet another phrase I thought was unique to our MOG and turns out it wasn’t – do the come up with anything on their own?

    3. Dear BigRed1:

      I believe that was also Marx’ reply to indolent laborers. But I wouldn’t tell your former, funny … er … fundy CEO. He’d blow a mental/gastronomical gasket.

      Christian Socialist

  6. I remember hearing that song on the Zondervan sampler record my folks played on the hi-fi. It was a pipe organ arrangement and quite beautiful. I was pretty small then and loved hearing it. There was no angst attached to it for me then, it was simply music.

    1. Me, too. Not a bad song; based, I think, on the words of Jesus, something like “I must work the work of Him that sent Me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.”

      Just a nice song; no bad memories.

      I did notice that the congregation didn’t seem to get into the song until the song leader finished the first phrase / line of the song.

  7. Fundamentalism has so much baggage to it. Just the word “work” in this song has so much baggage. We all know its not–“use your talents and gifts to bring God’s love to the world.” We know it has more baggage than that–there is the do the things which are acceptable and applauded in their circles….soul winning, pointing out to all people how deprave they are, not enjoying anything that might be considered worldly (and what isn’t considered worldly by fundies?)…
    And that is just the word “work” in the song! Thanks, now I will spend the rest of labor day trying to unpack all the flashbacks.

    1. My mom told me her old 1930’s Methodist pastor once said you should come to church with a shovel and a pitchfork, metaphorically. What you hear that applies to you, shovel it in. What doesn’t, pitch it behind you with the pitchfork. When I found I was pitching much more than shoveling, I left and found a non-legalistic church.

      1. Sometimes there is so much bullshit spilling forth from the pulpit (on top of the encrusted matter that’s been collecting for years) that shovel and pitchfork will do you no good; a backhoe is needed just to dig your way out.

        1. Ha, good one! It’s usually easier just to walk out and never go back. There is a whole big world out there that won’t bite if you have a little savvy. Savvy, of course, is not taught at fundy U so some people get lost and confused without their dictator MOG to tell them what to do. I never had that problem, thanks to my mom.

    2. “BAGGAGE”

      This is exactly what comes to mind with the use of this hymn. I understand the sentiment, but also the relentless beating of the drum to manipulate people.

      There is a disproportionate emphasis on a small list of truths that we don’t see very many times in Scripture. Further, the political and social viewpoints of the Mog’s are read back into the text and declared themselves (the Mog’s political and social viewpoints) to be the very oracles of God.

      I see pastors seething with anger at the perceived lack of work by those in their congregations. They will even go so far as to accuse their sheeple of a “poor work ethic.” They proceed to beat the sheep into submission. The goal? To fall in line with the pastor’s view of how much “work” is enough, and what constitutes work in their minds. It doesn’t just go for pastors, but nearly anyone in the positions of church leadership.

      I don’t see Jesus or His disciples using these tactics.

      This is the danger of hierarchical leadership in the Church. Nevertheless, I do recognize that there are many pastors who do not fit into this mold, so I am not making a blanket statement. I’ve seen some pastors who are using their “office” in ways that show more understanding of the human condition than their authoritarian and dictatorial counterparts.

      Another thing: Titus, 1:12–13 (Paul’s use of the Epimenides paradox) has been used glibly by pastors to actually malign a race of people. My former fundy CEO used it, as I’ve mentioned previously, to refer to Hispanics in our community as “lazy,” particularly those on welfare.

      It’s so easy for any of us to deny the Spirit of Christ with our sharp tongues. No doubt I’ve done that and will do it again. For that, I’m sorry.


  8. That song is rather sunup to sundown, isn’t it? Very agrarian. “Work for the night is coming, when man’s work is o’er.” Unless you work outside the fields, use electricity or some other new-dangled forsaking of the old paths.

    Oh, and no rest time is built into the song, either! No potty breaks! No lunch. No recreation or education. Why, it’s amazing the writer had time to compose it, unless of course, the author was a (gasp) hypocrite!

    1. The women and girls gardened and cooked all day, cared for the chickens, gathered eggs and kept a house. They took lunch out to the field where the men and boys were working to raise hay and grain to feed the large stock which provided meat to eat and sell. That’s what you did then, if you wanted to survive. No labor union, no OSHA, just your own back and arms and you hoped to have a large family to share the work load. That song was written in that time so everyone knew what it meant. I knew many such older people as I was growing up in a small farm town. I don’t remember them complaining or expecting a handout and they were most generous.

      1. I do hope you aren’t complaining about labor unions or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

        Labor unions made the middle class possible. The rich have always used their wealth to get the most from the poor. Unions finally helped to get better working conditions and fair wages. Both companies and workers prospered under that arrangement.

        There is a lot of history that needs to be understood. Fair wages — enough to lift you out of poverty — are not handouts. Neither is unemployment. Social programs benefiting the poor also benefit everyone.

        As in most things, we need a balance. I have never seen a hymn telling employers to be fair to their workers, have you? Have you ever sung a hymn about giving to the needy, or helping the sick, or not judging others?

        Our theology has been shaped to emphasize the responsibility of workers to their bosses, to encourage us to submit to authorities (whether proper or not), to not think for ourselves or to act independently. There is virtually no theology for the rich on how they should treat those under them, or take care of the poor.

        Oh, it might be found in some little-read books, but what is actually used and preached?

        1. Thus the rise of Billy Sunday. He was supported by industry so that he would ‘encourage’ labor to submit to the industrial machine that held profits more important than worker health or safety.

        2. There, there, rtgm, calm down already. I’m a card carrying member of the AFL-CIO. We have the unions to thank for the 40 hour work week and weekends off. My point was, people worked diligently back in the day because it was necessary, didn’t stand around and whine and get all dramatic and did take pride in self sufficiency.

          Somebody has to work so the rest can collect the free money. Your average fundy pastor has been trained in holding his hand out. He doesn’t even need a union, he has the wordagawd, you know.

        3. RTG,

          I actually had a pastor tell me once that the reason we didn’t focus on the rich or those in control and how they should act is because “the heart of the king is in the hand of the lord and he turneth it whithersoever he will”. So those in authority have proven themselves to God that they can be used and don’t need a lot of extra direction.

    2. I guess the writer didn’t anticipate 3rd shift being a necessity. Sleep for the night is coming is my motto!

    1. Dear Ignatius:

      I love hymns. And I like carnival music. But I don’t enjoy carnival music at church. See the difference? 😉

      Christian Socialist

    2. Ewww, did you hear the old lady soprano vibrato high note at the end of the chorus? There was a lady like that in my old church, I had an anticipatory cringe whenever she showed up for choir. Oh, and the song is in perfect waltz time, I wonder if that should be scandalous.

  9. Dear SFL Reader:

    Cleveland Baptist Church is local for me. I sometimes drive by it on my way to a much smaller RCA church with better preaching and saner people. Occasionally, I take in a few minutes of a message on the internet. Yesterday was one of those days. Service began with a rousing rendition of ‘In My Heart Their Rings A Melody.’ In place of the anthem, they do carnival music.

    I bet you can see the attraction already…

    If extremely annoying, Folger is nearly amusing as he struggles to assemble random IFB lunacy into cogent sentences where volume and word count vie for dominance. As word count moves into first place, he begins to stutter and volume kicks into high gear. But in this recent message, something goes terribly wrong and the guy stalls out.


    I’m not sure what it was, but I found it funny as hell. If you’re interested, move the tracking button to 16:50. It happens around 16:55 where he seems to have several ticks and then founders.

    Christian Socialist

    PS: Scholars wonder at the meaning of Gen 6:1ff, but Folger has solved the puzzle. Somehow and inexplicably, the reading is about women who dress provocatively. Big surprise or what …

    1. Love it when fundies say debated passages are “very simple – you don’t need to be a biblical scholar to see that…”

      1. Dear Dwelling in Imladris:

        Fundamentalists are the nietzschians of Christianity. In just that way, Nietzsche became popular with common folk since he was the guy who would explain the universe to you in five minutes. The difference is that Nietzsche did his work in a bar.

        Christian Socialist

    2. Interesting sermon. Especially love the way he blamed the loss of civilian lives at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the residents’ failure to flee when warning pamphlets were dropped.

      So the death of the innocents were their own fault, not the fault of a president who ordered that an atomic bomb be dropped on civilian populations.

      Because Manifest Destiny, I suppose.

      And his casual interpretation of the Nephilim is priceless.

      1. Dear Bald Jones grad:

        Folger ritually screws-up on multiple levels. Some linguistic contortions leave me wondering if he is breaking into ecstatic speech, but the 16:55 stall-out sets a new favorite.

        Schooled abroad, I’m no historian on the US; but didn’t we rule out informing Japan of the attack lest great numbers of people be moved into those areas? Or did leaflets inform other cities after the fact of what took place? I’m really don’t know. But I’m not convinced Folger has it right either.

        Folger complains that he has no time. Yet belabored, superfluous illustration [this time, a traffic accident] is his trademark. If he added several sub-points to his main points, 10 minutes should do it. Every text leads to the old ‘we’re assailed on all sides/be sure you look good/be in church 8 days a week’ narrative.

        Why do his people put up with the likes of him?

        Walter Kaiser’s take on Ge 6 is better. But then Kaiser’s being an OT scholar didn’t help Folger.

        Elohim very predominately means ‘God’ [Ge 6:2], but can refer to idols, judges, rulers, or great and mighty ones such [as Abraham–Ge 23:6]. ‘Laqach’ [took] is used 1,000x+ with a wide variety of meaning. ‘Nephilim’ can refer to stature, but greatness [mighty warrior, hero] may be intended. Gibbor [valiant warrior] and shem [fame, renown] suggest that. So Ge 6 doesn’t convince me that the ‘taking’ of these women was voluntary.

        Themselves chattel, women represent the best that one could acquire. And as every intention in the heart of man was evil continually, it was not women alone that Gen 6 references. Gen 6 happens in every age: people of power, stature and wealth take what they want – and ‘whomever they want.’

        In illustration of this is the impending foreclosure now menacing some Detroit 30,000 residents. The root is the deindustrialization of the city, and a decades-long war on wages. The immediate causes are these:

        1] Public Act 123 [1999] reduced the time residents are allowed to get their property taxes current before foreclosure begins from five years to two years.

        2] In 2013, the city of Detroit over-assessed home value by 65% [on average].

        3] The Wayne County Treasurer recently scrapped the practice of avoiding foreclosures on properties owing less than $1,700 on property taxes.

        Supported by both parties, local government, the White House and Detroit’s ‘Blight Removal Task Force,’ this three-fisted punch hits laborers in a time of brutal wage cuts and plant closures. As mass water shutoffs made unlivable conditions and plummeted property value, homes were renovated and are being bought at a fraction value – even in advance of the mass auction set for Sept 11. The foreclosed homes are provided by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. It is financed by Quicken Loans and Home Depot is overseeing construction.

        As people are driven from their homes and land, demigods [great ones] take whatever they want. Every imagination of their hearts is only evil continually. It is all perfectly legal. The entire ruling apparatus backs it.

        And the very best that Folger and thousands of his IFB clerical-clown cronies can do is to tell women that God will get us unless the dress right in public.

        Christian Socialist

        1. Now that’s some good, relevant preaching.

          Regnat avericia, regnant et averii. (Greed rules, and the greedy rule).

          Time to give Christian Socialism a try.

        2. Dear Last True Whig:

          I wonder if people of Detroit are singing ‘In My Heart their Rings a Melody’ as they are being evicted…

          Christian Socialist

    3. Christian Socialist,reading your comment took me back to many years ago where in a little Pentecostal church I would love it when that song was sung. In my hearttheit rings a melody. I was in Sunday School and requested that song whenever I got a chance.

      1. Dear Dave:

        I remember loving that song myself. At the time, I was 4.

        Christian Socialist

      2. That was one of my faves too. I liked the little piano embellishment in the chorus that was actually written in the notation, the pastor’s wife played it well.

    4. Christian Socialist :
      CBC can f off. The work for the night is coming video made me sick to my stomach. I am so glad this shit is way in my past. This is the only thing I don’t like about SFL. It reminds me of this stupid ass crap. I sang so many carnival songs at church growing up and for the first decade of my adulthood. I wish people were not still caught up in this tripe.

      the Admiral

    1. Hmmm, same tune as “Be Thou My Vision” which dates back to about 700 AD, the lyrics, that is. Gave me chills the first time I heard it, which of course was not at a fundy church.

      1. We had a guest chorus at my church last week and they sang Be Thou My Vision with verses alternating in Gaelic and English, accompanied by violin and cello. I’m not usually a crier, but they almost got me with that. It was transcendent.

        Sometimes the idea that I’m allowed to look back at ancient faith traditions with thankfulness and a sense of connection – instead of looking down on them and pointing out how wrong they were – is still overwhelming to me.

        1. One Sunday I was supposed to read Scripture after a special number. The Pastor and his wife sang “Be Thou My Vision” and since it was one of my favorite hymns, I found myself inadvertently singing too, although very, very quietly. At least, so I thought.

          Later I apologized for it and they expressed surprise, first that it wasn’t a feedback in the sound system they’d heard, and second that I actually knew the hymn.

    2. I had never heard “Lord of all Hopefulness” before. I like it.
      As an Irishman I love “be thou my vision” which is based on a ancient Irish hymn.

  10. Hanging out in my out-of-town work apartment last week, had the radio on the local Christian station for white noise. Lester Roloff and “The Family Altar” came on and I was too lazy to jump up right away, figured I’d take a little trip down memory lane. Fine and dandy until he started ranting about the UN . . . blah blah blah . . . TRADE UNIONISTS . . . . How does that relate AT ALL to preaching the Word?

    1. It doesn’t. But, the pulpit is the MOG’s forum for whatever he wants to rant and rave about, be it politics, weather, ladies’ skirt length, or men’s hair length. There’s a never ending list, of course, ad nauseam.

  11. The song, of course, is used as a common tool to control people and make them work to expand the power, influence, and empire of the current sitting MoG.

    When they preach about working and eating they refer to 2 Thess. 3:10 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat”. I have found this particular verse used primarily to over ride other teachings of feeding and clothing the poor, assisting those that are in need, etc. Instead of helping people it is used to just beat them up making them even more depressed while bolstering the ego and pride of other church members because they “are not like that person”.

    It’s all about the money, power, and control as the different MoG’s vie for attention and status amongst each other.

    1. “Instead of helping people it is used to just beat them up”
      How true – plus the old “we’ll help you with utilities or let you into our food pantry if you agree to come to church two Sundays.”

  12. Since it is Labor Day, we might take a moment to reflect on the benefits to the U.S. Worker brought about by the labor movement. The origin of this holiday is a bit complicated.

    The U.S. Department of Labor’s page on the history of Labor Day notes the holiday “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.” It doesn’t mention the Pullman strike or labor strife in general. Throughout American history, workers had to fight to get better pay and shorter hours — evenings and weekends weren’t just handed over by lawmakers and benevolent managers.

    “I think most people consider Labor Day an end-of-summer three-day weekend,” Papke, a law professor at Marquette University, said in an interview. “Very few Americans stop to reflect on the working man, on labor, on the union movement or any of those things.”

    1. I suggest watching the documentary “Harlan County USA” about the 1973 Kentucky coal miners strike. Compelling and inspiring, to say the least, won an Oscar.

      1. Dear nomoreculottes:

        Don’t forget the West Virginia coal miners’ action in 1921. When Mingo County imprisoned coal miners under a martial law decree, some 10,000 more coal miners took up arms to free them. They were dispersed by the USAF. Yes, you read it correctly. United States citizens faced aerial bombardment by the Unites States Air Force on their own soil.

        Christian Socialist

        1. Hence the Second Amendment. Because no matter how many guns you have, the US gov’t will always have bigger and better.

        2. Christian Socialist,

          I must correct an error. It was NOT the United States Air Force that bombed the miners, but rather the United States Army utilizing their Air Corp.

          The USAF was “born” on September 18th, 1947. Therefore, as a the youngest branch of our fine military tradition, it is in no way culpable of committing the aforementioned atrocity. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the contemporary political establishment who utilized the ARMY to do their dastardly deed.

          In this case the United States Air Force is guiltless…guiltless I say!

          With the deepest of respect,


  13. I finally listened, and the tune was instantly familiar. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it in English, but I believe there’s a Russian version that gets sung somewhat regularly. I’ll try to find it in the hymnal later.

      1. He definitely was a hand waver. However as an instrumentalist, I liked the hand waving. A good down beat is always nice when playing with a bunch of other instrumentalists with varying degrees of talent.

        1. Non-musicians often don’t know what the “hand waving” is all about. I’ve heard some say the guy is just showing off. Considering at least half the singers and musicians in any given church ensemble have a zero to poor sense of timing, a director is essential to maintain some semblance of order. The catch is, you hope the director has good timing.

  14. I use to always lead the congregation in this song on Labor Day weekend. In my immaturity, I always hope I wasn’t smiling inappropriately on the phrase, “while their bright tints are glowing.” I also hoped I enunciated properly on the word “tints.” “Ts” are much more easily heard than “ns.”

  15. There are times when even Episcopalians aren’t immune from hymns about work.

    “Come, Labor On,” normally sung to a tune by the organist T. Tertius Noble.

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

    2 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.

    3 Come, labor on.
    Away with gloomy doubts and faithless fear!
    No arm so weak but may do service here:
    by feeblest agents may our God fulfill
    his righteous will.

    4 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.

    5 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.”

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