Scripture Verse

The laborer is worthy of his wages. Luke 10:7


Words: Jo­seph Gos­tick, Tales, Es­says, and Po­ems (Lon­don: Simp­kin, Mar­shall, 1848), pag­es 167–69, alt. In ma­ny hym­nals, the text ap­pears in abridged form, start­ing at stan­za 4.

Music: Che­nies Ti­mo­thy R. Mat­thews, 1855 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Gos­tick (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you ?

Timothy R. Matthews


You cannot pay with money
The million sons of toil—
The sailor on the ocean,
The peasant on the soil;
The laborer in the quarry,
The hewer of the coal,
Your coin pays hand and sinew,
But cannot pay the soul.

You gaze on yon cathedral,
Whose turrets meet the sky:
Remember its foundations
In earth and darkness lie;
For, were not those foundations
So darkly resting there,
The tow’rs could never rise up
So proudly in the air.

The workshop must be crowded
That palaces be bright;
If ploughman made no furrow,
The poet could not write.
Let every toil be hallowed,
That man performs for man,
And have its share of honor
As part of one great plan.

See, light darts down from Heaven,
And enters where it may;
The eyes of all earth’s people
Are cheered with one bright day.
So let the mind’s true sunshine
Be spread o’er earth so free,
To fill the souls that labor
As waters fill the sea.

A turner of the soil
Need not have earthly mind;
Nor digger in the coal field
Be held by spirit blind:
The mind can shed a light on
All worthy labor done,
And humble acts shine brightly
With radiance of the sun.

The tailor and the cobbler,
May lift their heads as men—
Nobler than Alexander,
If he could live again,
And think of all his bloodshed,
(And all for nothing, too!)
And ask himself—What made I
As useful as a shoe?

What cheers the musing student
The poet, the divine?
The thought that on his followers
A brighter day will shine.
Let every human labor
Enjoy the vision bright—
And let the thought from Heaven
Be spread like Heav’n’s own light!

O ye who wield the pen,
Rise like a band inspired,
Ye poets, let your lyrics
With hope for man be fired;
Till earth becomes a temple,
And every human heart
Shall join in one great service,
Each happy in his part.