- Two Union Songs
we will sing one song
We will sing one song of the meek and the humble slave,The horny-handed son of the soil;He’s toiling hard from the cradle to the grave,But this master reaps the profits of his toil.
Then we’ll sing one song of the poor and ragged tramp,He carries his home on his back;Too old to work, he’s not wanted round the camp,So he wanders without aim along the track.
chorus Organize, O toilers, come organize your might; Then we’ll sing one song of the workers’ commonwealth Full of beauty, full of love and health.
We will sing one song of the children in the mills,They’re taken from playground and schools,In tender years made to go the pace that kills,In the sweatshops mid the looms and spools.
Then we’ll sing one song of the one big union grand,The hope of the toiler and the slave;It’s coming fast; it is sweeping sea and land,to the terror of the grafter and the knave.
chorus Organize, O toilers, come organize your might; Then we’ll sing one song of the workers’ commonwealth Full of beauty, full of love and health.1913 [End Page 65]
the preacher and the slave
Long-haired preachers come out every night,Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;But when asked how ’bout something to eatThey will answer with voices so sweet:
chorus You will eat, bye and bye, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
And the starvation army they play,And they sing and they clap and they pray,Till they get all your coin on the drum,Then they tell you when you’re on the bum:
Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out,And they holler, they jump and they shout“Give your money to Jesus,” they say,“He will cure all diseases today.”
If you fight hard for children and wife,Try to get something good in this life,You’re a sinner and bad man, they tell,When you die you will sure go to hell. chorus
Workingmen of all countries, unite,Side by side we for freedom will fight:When the world and its wealth we have gainedTo the grafters we’ll sing this refrain:
final chorus You will eat, bye and bye, When you’ve learned how to cook and to fry; Chop some wood, ‘twill do you good, And you’ll eat in the sweet bye and bye.1911 [End Page 66]
Joe Hill was born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in 1879 in Gävle, Sweden, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1902. An itinerant worker, frequently unemployed, he joined the Industrial Workers of the World in 1910 and began writing union songs, satirical poems, and organizing workers using the name Joe Hill. In 1914, while working as a laborer at the Silver King Mine, in Park City, Utah, he was arrested, charged with murder, convicted, and executed by firing squad the following year. His trial attracted international attention; many believed he was innocent but had been convicted because of his work as a union organizer. He has been regarded as a martyr to the cause of organized labor. His ashes were placed in 600 envelopes and sent to supporters around the world to be scattered to the winds.