Open main menu



Opening Song—Help It On.

RecitationTribute to Genius and Labor.

Concert Exercise for the Little OnesTwo Little Hands

ReadingThe Moral Dignity of Labor.

Song—Make Hay while the Sun Shines.

RecitationWorking and Shirking.


RecitationHo! Bonny Boy.

Song—This World Is What We Make It. (School join In chorus.)

RecitationTrue Nobility.

RecitationThe Village Blacksmith.

OrationFree Labor.

RecitationThe Working Man’s Song.

Song—Work For the Night is Coming.

Exercise For Two Little GirlsThe Scissors.

RecitationToil’s Grandeur.

ReadingThe Toilers.

Closing SongWork and Reward.

(All the songs except the last are in the "Song Knapsack," and it will lend interest to the program to have the school join in singing most of them.)


Our Government was not established that one man might do with himself as he pleases, and with another man too. I say that, whereas God Almighty has given every man one mouth to be fed, and one pair of hands adapted to furnish food for that mouth, if anything can be proved to be the will of Heaven, it is proved by this fact, that that mouth is to be fed by those hands, without being interfered with by any other man who has also his mouth to feed and his hands to labor with. I hold, if the Almighty had ever made a set of men that should do all the eating and none of the work, he would have made them with mouths only and no hands; and if he had ever made another class that he intended should do all the work and none of the eating, he would have made them without mouths and with all hands.


Who lacks for bread of daily work
And his appointed task would shirk,
Commits a folly and a crime;
  A soulless slave—
  A partly knave—
A clog upon the wheels of Time.
With work to do and stores of health,
The man’s unworthy to be free
  Who will not give,
  That he may live.
His daily toil for daily fee.

No; Let us work! We only ask
Reward proportioned to our task;
We have no quarrel with the great;
  No feud with rank—
  With mill or bank—
No envy of a lord's estate.
If we can earn sufficient store
To satisfy our need,
  And can retain,
  For age and pain,
A fraction, we are rich indeed.

No dread of toil have we or ours;
We know our worth, our weight, our powers.
The more we work, the more we win;
  Success to Trade!
  Success to Spade,
And to the corn that's coming in;
And joy to him who, o'er his task,
Remembers toil is nature's plan;
  Who working thinks,
  And never sinks
His independence as a man.

Who only asks for humble wealth.
Enough for competence and health,
And leisure when his work is done,
  To read his book
  By chimney nook,
Or stroll at setting sun;
Who toils, as every man should toil.
For fair reward, erect and free;
  These are the men—
  The best of men—
These are the men we mean to be.



(Recitation for little girls, holding scissors that "snip" at the proper time.)

We're a jolly pair of twins,
 And we always work together.
We are always bright and sharp,
 However dull the weather.
Whenever little Maidie
 Takes her work-box in her lap.
We are always up and ready
 With our “Snip, snip, snap!”

We cut the pretty patches
To piece the pretty quilt;
Each square the next one matches,
Their posies never wilt;
We trim the edges neatly.
With never a mishap.
And what music sounds so sweetly
As our “Snip, snip, snap!”

We cut the dolly's mantle;
 We shape the dolly's dress.
Oh, half the clever things we do
 You'd never, never guess!
For food or sleep or playtime
 We do not care a rap.
But are ready night and daytime.
 With our “Snip, snip, snap!”

  Snip, snip, snap,
  Snip, snip, snap,
  We are always up and ready
  With our “Snip, snip, snap!”



What is noble? To inherit
 Wealth, estate, and proud degree?
There must be some other merit
 Higher yet than these for me.
Something greater far must enter
 Into life's majestic span.
Fitted to create and center
 True nobility in man.

What is noble? 'Tis the finer
 Portion of our mind and heart.
Linked to something still diviner
 Than mere language can impart;
Ever prompting, ever seeing
 Some improvement yet to plan;
To uplift our fellow-being.
 And, like man, to feel for man.

What is noble? Is the saber
 Nobler than the humble spade?
There's a dignity in labor.
 Truer than e'er pomp arrayed!
He who seek's the mind's improvement,
 Aids the world in aiding mind;
Every great commanding movement
 Serves not one, but all mankind.

O'er the forge's heat and ashes,
 O'er the engine's iron head.
Where the rapid shuttle flashes.
 And the spindle whirls its thread.
There is labor lowly tending
 Each requirement of the hour;
There is genius still extending
 Science and its world of power.

Mid the dust and speed and clamor
 Of the loom-shed and the mill;
Midst the clink of wheel and hammer,
 Great results are growing still.
Though, too oft, by Fashion's creatures,
 Work and workers may be blamed,
Commerce need not hide its features,
 Industry is not ashamed.

What is noble? That which places
 Truth in its enfranchised will;
Leaving steps like angel traces.
That mankind may follow still.
E'en though Scorn's malignant glances
Prove him poorest of his clan,
He's the noble who advances
Freedom and the cause of man!


(To be recited with appropriate gestures.)

Two little hands so soft and white,
This is the left and this is the right.
Five little fingers standing on each,
So I can hold a plum or a peach.
When I get as big as you.
Lots of things these hands can do.

—From Moderator.



Ho! bonny boy, with cheek of brown,
In the river wading.
What the dreams within your head,
Slowly, slowly fading?
Vacation’s nearly gone, you say.
With school-time growing nearer.
And every moment of the day
Is growing sweetly dearer.

Slowly summer steals away,
Vacation joys are fading,
While every moment is so dear,
In the river wading.
Turtle sleeping on a log.
Sand-peep where the beach is;
Cherries growing in the sun,
Where the cat-bird screeches.

But the river, bonny boy.
Is not always sleeping;
There is work for it and you.
There is joy and weeping.
Time in summer for your fun,
Time to work in winter.
For the race is always won.
By the fleetest sprinter.

Ho! curly-head, this lesson learn,—
The world is only seeming
To the boy who idly stands
And wastes the day in dreaming.
There’s a work for you somewhere,
And a way to follow;
There’s a joy for every care,
A hill for every hollow.


Human talent, industry, wisdom, and skill, under the favoring blessing of Heaven, must now go forth to sow and to gather in the harvest of the earth. We are teaching lessons of political economy which the world has never heard before. It is a noble dispensation for our country. Other nations may see us, but not with the vines or olives of Italy or France, nor with the oranges and grapes of Spain or Portugal, nor even the rich and glowing verdure and teeming harvests of England and the lowland of Scotland.

The magnificence of their time-honored architecture we have not attained. And yet there are intelligence, prosperity, dignity, independence, and self-respect marking the laboring classes of our population, which lifts us far above all envy of the grandeur and glory of European display. They see that we have a people, flourishing and prosperous beyond comparison

It is the province of America to build, not palaces, but men; to exalt, not titled stations, but general humanity; to elevate, not the few, but the many; and to make herself known, not so much in individuals as in herself, spreading to the highest possible level (but striving to keep it level still), universal education, prosperity, and honor.

The great element of this whole plan of effort and instruction, is the moral relative dignity of labor; an element which we are to exalt, in public estimation, in the highest possible degree, and transmit to our families and to posterity, as the true greatness of the country and the world.

We are to look at this enlarging elevation of the working classes of men—a fact which may be considered the main index of our age—not as a difficulty to be limited, but as an attainment in which we greatly rejoice. And, if our heraldry is in the hammer and the ax and the awl and the needle, we are to feel it a higher honor than if, in their place, we could have dragons and helmets and cross-bones and skulls. Our country’s greatness is to be the result, not of foreign war, but of domestic peace; not of the plunder of the weak, but of the fair and even principles of just commerce, a thriving agriculture, a beautiful and industrious art. Let us glory in everything that indicates this fact, as an index also of our desire for renown. This great lesson—honor to the working classes, in the proportion of their industry and merit—the world will yet completely learn.

And when the great, exalting, leveling system of Christianity gains its universal reign, mountains will be brought down and valleys will be filled; a highway shall be made for human prosperity and peace—for the elevation and dignity and security of man—over which no oppressor's foot shall pass; the poorest of the sons of Adam shall dwell unmolested and fearless beneath its own vine and fig-tree; the united families of earth shall all compete to acquire and encourage the arts of peace; nation shall not rise up against nation, and men shall learn war no more.


The camp has had its day of song;
The sword, the bayonet, the plume.
Have crowded out of rhyme too long
The plow, the anvil, and the loom.
O, not upon our tented fields
Are freedom’s heroes bred alone.
The training of the workshop yields
More heroes true than war has known!

Who drives the bolt, who shapes the steel,
May, with the heart as valiant smite,
As he who sees a foeman reel
In blood before his blow of might!
The skill that conquers space and time.
That graces life, that lightens toil.
May spring from courage more sublime
Than that which makes a realm its spoil.

Let Labor, then, look up and see
His craft no path of honor lacks;
The soldier’s rifle yet shall be
Less honored than the woodman’s ax.
Let art his own appointment prize.
Nor deem that gold or outward hight
Can compensate the worth that lies
In tastes that breed their own delight.

And may the time draw nearer still.
When men this sacred truth shall heed,
That, from the thought and from the will,
Must all that raises man proceed.
Though pride should hold our calling low.
For us shall duty make it good;
And we from truth to truth shall go.
Till life and death are understood.



A grasshopper met a bumble bee
  In a field of sweet red clover;
“Oh, why this flurry and haste?” cried he,
  “I’ve brought my fiddle along with me;
Let’s dance till the summer’s over!”

“I’m gathering stores for the winter time,”
  The bee cried over his shoulder;
“I like your fiddling, it is sublime;
  But, living here, in this changeable clime,
I must think of days that are colder.”
The grasshopper laughed in a mocking way.
  As gaily he flourished his fiddle;
A troop of butterflies, merry and gay.
  Danced in a ring through the livelong day,
While the grasshopper stood in the middle.

The bumblebee, too, was fond of a dance.
  And the day was hot for working;
But he never gave them a second glance.
  And hastened away (if near them by chance)
For he knew the danger of shirking!

He gathered his stores thro’ the sunny hours,
  And felt that his pleasures were coming;
He knew that soon there would be no flowers,
  He knew that in winter the cold sky lowers,
And he kept up a cheerful humming.
The cold winds came and the days grew dark.
  And frozen were flower and berry;
The fiddler and dancers lay stiff and stark,
  In lonely graves with never a mark—
But the wise little bee made merry!


(Air: “Marching Through Georgia.”)

True Freedom’s blessings have been won for our beloved land,
And soon we’ll see full busy days for every willing hand;
Prosperity to bless us all and cheerful lives command;
    Hard times be driven far away.

Chorus:—Cheer up! hurrah! the Old Flag’s floating high!
    Hurrah! hurrah! the hard time’s nearly by!
’Mid truest peace we gladly see prosperity is nigh,
      Work and reward for the millions.

For industry has always been America’s true pride,
Where idle none need ever be, with work on ev’ry side;
We’ll have it so again, my friends, turn on the prosp’rous tide.
    Fill all the workers’ hands with gain.
The dudes and noodles, cads and snobs, had better move away,
This busy land can’t spare the room for lazies, such as they.
To foreign climate let them go and there forever stay.
    Ours is a land for busy workers.



Text Jno. 5:17, “My father worketh hitherto and I work.” This series of talks had its inspiration in some informal conversations with toilers in various places in our city and some of the topics are framed in response to direct request. These talks are not given on the supposition that the toilers are in some imaginary class below the average. They are not talks to, but talks with, the toilers. They are talks with all those who in shop or store, home or schoolroom, office or field, are working for bread.

I.  All toil is noble. We need to revise our notions. The brain and the hand work on an equality, and the honest handling of pen or spade is noble. Carlyle fittingly says: “Two men I honor and no third. First, the toil-worn craftsman that with earth-made implement laboriously conquers the earth and makes her man’s. Venerable to me is the hard hand, crooked, coarse; venerable, too, is the rugged face all weather-tanned, bespoiled, with its rude intelligence, for it is the face of a man living man-like. A second man I honor, and still more highly; him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable, not daily bread, but the bread of life. Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both dignities united; and he that must toil outwardly for the lowest of man’s wants, is also toiling inwardly for the highest. Sublimer in this world know I nothing than a peasant saint, could such now anywhere be met with. Such a one will take thee back to Nazareth itself; thou wilt see the splendor of Heaven spring forth from the humblest depths of earth, like a light shining in great darkness.”

If you have read that quaint and helpful book “Hiram Golf’s Religion,” you will remember his conversation with the pastor in which he earnestly contends there is no such thing as “a humble calling,” but that he is a shoemaker by the grace of God as the pastor is a minister by the grace of God. And when he stands at the judgment with a sample shoe and the minister with a sample sermon, there will be no discrimination between hand and brain work!

With similar spirit George Herbert wrote:

“A servant with this clause makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws,
Makes that and the action fine.”

Toil is noble because of its Heaven-born origin and exemplification. The Bible history begins with the work of creation and ends with the work of salvation. Christianity has ever been identified with the toiler. It called a leader from a despised slave race, and Moses did the Lord’s work. It summoned a king from the fields, and David the shepherd sat on the throne of Israel. It called for its theologian and first missionary a man not ashamed to toil with a tentmaker’s needle, Paul the Tarsan. It crowned the Christ with the consummate flower of toilship, bore him in a stable, trained him at a carpenter’s bench, and bade him be the servant of all, as His life was a ransom for many.

II.  Toil is noble because of the dignity of those who, practicing it, achieved greatness and rendered the world service. Men would have the power of a Demosthenes, but few would toil with a sword suspended above the naked shoulder that a cruel cut might correct each awkward shrug. Men would be Miltons, but few would dictate Paradise Lost in a world they could not see, sell it for £15 and hear a learned London critic say, “The blind schoolmaster has written a tedious poem on ‘The Fall of Man’ and, unless length has merit, it has none!” Christ did not say, “Come unto Me all ye that are lazy and indolent, shiftless and thriftless,” but “Come all ye that labor.”

III.  Toil is the great schoolmaster of the race which gives readiness and self-poise, and is acceptable worship. God has put the highest price on the greatest worth. “Toil is difficult in proportion as the end is high or noble.” Therefore the holy hermit Hutto could reply to Charlemagne:

“Think not that my graces slumber
  While I toil throughout the day:
For all honest work is worship.
  And to labor is to pray.”


Toil and the arm grows strong,
 Sluggards are ever weak;
Toll and the earth gives forth
 Riches to those that seek.
Toil and the eye grows keen,
 Sure is the woodman’s stroke;
 With skill the craftsman molds
 Wonders from steel and rock.
   Not from the idler’s dream
   Flows yonder miller’s stream,
   Nor from the braggart’s boast
   Gleams yonder guarded coast.

Toil and the heart grows light,
 Trembles the earth with song.
Flowing in thrilling notes,
 From the vast toiling throng.
Up from the plains of waste.
 Cities triumphant loom;
Where the fierce panther crouched,
 Gardens of beauty bloom.
   Not from the striker’s moan
   Have our great wastes been sown,
   Nor from the coward’s gun
   Did the fierce savage run.

Toil and the mind grows clear,
 To the great work of God;
Flow’rs of contentment spring,
 Bright’ning our earthen road;
Dearer becomes the land
 That we so proudly till,
Stouter our bulwarks loom,
 Daring invading skill.
   Not in the lawless hind,
   Can we a patriot find,
   Nor with the godless band.
   Dare we intrust our land.

   Ever a nation’s boast,—
   Bulwarks around her coast.
   Ever a country’s gain,—
   Toilers with hands or brain.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the first Monday of September in each year, being the day celebrated and known as Labor’s Holiday, is hereby made a legal public holiday, to all intents and purposes, in the same manner as Christmas, the first day of January, the twenty-second day of February, the thirtieth day of May, and the fourth day of July are now made by law public holidays.

Approved, June 28, 1894.

Note.—As Labor Day falls upon the first Monday in September when the schools are either beginning or not yet opened, we would suggest holding the exercises upon some day later so that all the schools may take part. Let parents assist by being present. Our schools should teach that all labor is ennobling and idleness a disgrace.


Under a spreading chestnut-tree
 The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
 With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
 Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black and long,
 His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
 He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face.
 For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
 You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge.
 With measured, beat and slow.
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
 When the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school
 Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
 And hear the bellows roar.
And catch the burning sparks that fly
 Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church.
 And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
 He hears his daughter’s voice.
Singing in the village choir.
 And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
 Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more.
 How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
 A tear out of his eyes.

 Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
 Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
 Has earned a night’s repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
 For the lesson thou hast taught I
Thus at the flaming forge of life
 Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
 Each burning deed and thought.


Pause not to dream of the future before us;
Pause not to weep the wild cares that come o’er us,
Hark! how Creation’s deep musical chorus,
 Unintermitting, goes up into Heaven!
Never the ocean-wave falters in flowing,
Never the little seed stops in its growing,
More and more richly the rose-heart keeps glowing,
 Till from its nourishing stem it is riven.

“Labor is worship!” the robin is singing;
“Labor is worship!” the wild bee is ringing;
Listen! that eloquent whisper unspringing,
 Speaks to thy soul from out Nature’s heart.
From the dark cloud flows the life-giving shower;
From the rough sod comes the soft-breathing flower;
From the small insect, the rich coral bower;
 Only man, in the plan, ever shrinks from his part.
Labor is life!—’Tis the still water faileth;
Idleness ever despaireth, bewaileth;
Keep the watch wound, for the dark rust assaileth:
 Flowers droop and die in the stillness of noon.
Labor is glory!—the flying cloud lightens;
Only the waving wing changes and brightens;
Idle hearts only the dark future frightens;
 Play the sweet keys, wouldst thou keep them in tune.

Labor is rest—from the sorrows that greet us;
Rest from all petty vexations that meet us.
Rest from sin-promptings that ever entreat us.
 Rest from world-sirens that lead us to ill.
Work,—and pure slumbers shall wait on thy pillow;
Work,—thou shalt ride o’er care’s coming billow;
Lie not down wearied ’neath woe’s weeping willow;
 Work with a stout heart and resolute will.

Droop not, though shame, sin, and anguish are round thee;
Bravely fling off the cold chain that hath bound thee;
Look on yon pure heaven smiling beyond thee;
 Rest not content in thy darkness,—a clod.
Work for some good,—be it ever so slowly;
Cherish some flower,—be it ever so lowly;
Labor!—all labor is noble and holy;
 Let thy great deeds be thy prayer to thy God.