Jesus Thou Divine Companion (Hymn for Labor Day)

This hymn, which it strongly reflects the Protestant work-ethic, is based on sections of The Toiling of Felix (New York, 1898), a poem by American Presbyterian theologian and academic, Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) which was first published in "The Toiling of Felix and Other Poems", released by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, USA, 1900.

Some writers suggest that the poem is itself based on the words of the apostle Thomas Didymus in “The Sayings of Jesus” from the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is not known who first set selections from the poem to music for use as a hymn. However different versions were published in American and many British hymn books - both atributed to van Dyke.

At some point, the title "Hymn for Labor Day" has been associated with the hymn. Again, it is unclear when this sub-title was introduced, as it was not included in the earliest publications.

With meter 8 7 8 7 D, tunes it is set to include:
  • DULCE CARMEN, attributed to Joann Michael Haydn (1737-1806)
  • EVERTON (Smart) by English composer Henry Thomas Smart (1813-1879)
  • STUTTGART from the Psalmodia Sacra (1715)
  • BEECHER (LOVE DIVINE) by John Zundel (1870)
  • SALTASH by Joshua Leavitt (1794 – 1873)
  • PLEADING SAVIOR from Christian Lyre, 1830
  • LOVE DIVINE by George F. Lejeune (1841-1904)
  • HYFRYDOL by Rowland Hugh Prichard (1811-1887)

Downloads


Examples


Solo singer with electronic organ backing at a Night of Hymns session



Lead singer and congregation, with organ - live recording, tune PLEADING SAVIOR



String instruments - tune PLEADING SAVIOUR:



A piano improvisation, based on the tune:



Lyrics


English version

They who tread the path of labour
follow where my feet have trod;
they who work without complaining,
do the holy will of God;
nevermore thou needest seek me;
I am with thee everywhere;
raise the stone, and thou shalt find me,
cleave the wood and I am there.


Where the many toil together,
there am I among my own;
where the tired workman sleepeth,
there am I with him alone:
I, the Peace that passeth knowledge,
dwell amid the daily strife;
I, the Bread of heaven am broken
in the sacrament of life.


Every task, however simple,
sets the soul that does it free;
every deed of love and mercy,
done to man is done to me.
nevermore thou needest seek me;
I am with thee everywhere;
raise the stone, and thou shalt find me;
cleave the wood, and I am there.

American version

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 Nazareth,
Toiling for thy daily food,
By thy patience and Thy courage,
Thou hast taught us toil is good.

They who tread the path of labour
Follow where thy feet have trod;
They who work without complaining
Do the holy will of God.
Never more thou needest seek me,
I am with thee ever more;
Raise the stone and thou shalt find me,
Cleave the wood and I am there.

Where the many toil together,
There am I amongst my own;
Where the tired workman sleepeth,
There I am with him alone.
I the peace which passeth knowledge
Dwell amidst the daily strife;
I the bread of Heaven broken
In the sacrament of life.

Every task, however simple,
Sets the soul who does it free;
Every deed of love and mercy,
Done to man, is done to me.
Never more thou needest seek me,
I am with thee ever more;
Raise the stone and thou shalt find me,
Cleave the wood and I am there.

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