Eight Hours - New England Music Scrapbook
Eight Hours
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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 beasts that graze the hillside, and the birds that wander free,

In the life that God has meted have a better lot than we.

Oh! hands and hearts are weary, and homes are heavy with dole;

If our life's to be filled with drudgery, what need of a human soul!

Shout, shout the lusty rally from 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 voice of God within us is calling us to stand

Erect, as is becoming to the work of his right hand.

Should he, to whom the maker his glorious image gave,

The meanest of his creatures crouch, a bread and butter slave?

Let the shout ring down the valleys and echo from ev'ry hill:

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!


Ye deem they're feeble voices that are raised in labor's cause?

But bethink ye of the torrent, and the wild tornado's laws!

We say not toil's uprising in terror's shape will come,

Yet the world were wise to listen to the monitory hum,

Soon, soon the deep-toned rally shall all the nations thrill:

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!


From factories and workshops, in long and weary lines,

From all the sweltering forges, and from out the sunless mines,

Wherever toil is wasting the force of life to live,

There the bent and battered armies come to claim what God doth give,

And the blazon on their banner doth with hope the nations fill:

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!


Hurrah, hurrah for labor! for it shall arise in might;

It has filled the world with plenty, it shall fill the world with light;

Hurrah, hurrah for labor! it is mustering all its powers,

And shall march along to victory with the banner of Eight Hours!

Shout, shout the echoing rally till all the welkin thrill:

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!

Hutchinson Family

Jesse Henry Jones. "Eight Hours." Lyrics: I. G. Blanchard. Music: Rev. Jesse H. Jones. First line: "We mean to make things over, we are tired of toil for naught." First line of chorus: "Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will!" N.d. [1866 or later].

  • The music for "Eight Hours" was printed in Philip S. Foner, American Labor Songs of the Nineteenth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), 222-223.
  • "Eight Hours" is included on Cincinnati's University Singers; Earl Rivers, Director; The Hand That Holds the Bread: Songs of Progress and Protest in the Gilded Age 1865-1893 (CD, New World; 1978, 1997).
  • I can't say for certain that the Hutchinsons sang "Eight Hours," though it seems possible for Joshua and highly probable for John. Joshua, Jesse, and John Hutchinson all sang at labor meetings. John sang for the Boston Eight Hour League as well as for other labor organizations. He was a personal friend of Rev. Jesse Henry Jones (1836-1904), who composed the music and who also appeared at meetings of the Boston Eight Hour League.
  • The lyricist, Isaac G. Blanchard, seems not to be as obscure as once thought. I. G. Blanchard was a printer and newspaper editor, based in East Boston and Boston proper. Online searches on his name turned up work from the 1850s up to 1870 (Rhymes for the Times). The 1861 Boston City Directory lists him as a printer and gives his address as 87 Kilby Street. In 1867, he is listed as the editor of the Daily Evening Voice, one of the most important though short-lived labor publications of its day. His address is given as 19 Hawley Street. If you have further information or, on the other hand, think this may be a case of mistaken identity, please get in touch. Meanwhile, this looks like a good start on a sketch of I. G. Blanchard and his activities; and we thank friend, colleague, and media historian Donna L. Halper of Emerson College for supplying much of our information.
  • Alan Lewis,  May 24, 2002






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Notes copyright © 2002 by Alan Lewis.
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Isaac Blanchard, Isaac G Blanchard, I G Blanchard, Philip S Foner, Donna Halper of Emerson College, Donna L Halper of Emerson College, Jesse Jones, Jesse Henry Jones, Jesse H Jones, NEMS, New England Music Scrapbook. Eight Hours