21 July

'Eight hours for work, Eight hours for rest; Eight hours for what we will'

July 21, 2009 · 1 min read

Today in 1878, the song Eight Hours was first published by the Industrial Workers of the World, the Wobblies. Written by the Reverend Jesse H Jones (music) and I G Blanchard (lyrics), it became the most popular labour song for the next 37 years. In case you’re wondering, it was overtaken by Solidarity Forever in 1915.

We mean to make things over, we are tired of toil for naught,

With but bare enough to live upon, and never an hour for thought;

We want to feel the sunshine, and we want to smell the flowers,

We are sure that God has will’d it, and we mean to have eight hours.

We’re summoning our forces from the shipyard, shop, and mill:

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will!

Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will!

The Fireside Book of Favourite American Songs, edited by Margaret Bradford Boni, Simon and Shuster, New York, 1952


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