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 & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

Timothy R. Matthews (1826–1910)


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.