Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day

The secular holiday we celebrate today in the US has no specific religious counterpart, but it still may have been commemorated in some way in your own worship service yesterday.

The Episcopal Church has a collect (opening prayer) for the day in the Book of Common Prayer which begins Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives. A broader concept of labor which is linked to the common good of all has been a focus of many churches over the past century or so.

Jesus, thou divine Companion,
By thy lowly human birth
Thou hast come to join the workers,
Burden bearers of the earth.
Thou, the carpenter of Naz'reth,
Toiling for thy daily food,
By thy patience and thy courage,
Thou hast taught us toil is good.

All who tread the path of labor
Follow where thy feet have trod;
May we work for good of others,
Do the holy will of God.
Thou, the peace that passeth knowledge,
Dwellest in the daily strife;
Thou, the bread of heaven, broken
In the sacrament of life.

Every task, however simple,
Sets the soul that does it free;
Every deed of love and kindness
Done to each is done to thee.
Jesus, thou divine Companion,
Help us all to do our best;
Bless in our daily labor,
Lead us to our Sabbath rest.

Henry Van Dyke, 1909; alt.
The Christian Lyre, 1830

The Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, has for many years sponsored searches for new, contemporary hymn texts on social justice topics. Their 2010 contest sought texts for use on Labor Day (or at least, the day before). The winning text (God, bless the work your people do) was submitted by the Reverend Dr. John A. Dalles, who has a blog where you can read his new hymn for the day.

Three Years Ago: Amy Beach

Two Years Ago: Amy Beach

One Year Ago: Thy grace impart! in time to be

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