In a discussion about the hymnbook at FMH a few weeks ago, patti said that her husband thinks Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel is the Communist fight song. This reminded me that many years ago, when I was in a BYU ward and this hymn was announced, a friend wrote a note referring to it that said, “Working shoulders of the world, unite!” (Perhaps my friend is patti’s husband.) This comment inspired me to rewrite the hymn:
Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel
(Approved Party Song #19)
The Revolution needs you now.
Oppressed though you may be.
You must be proletariat
And fight the Bourgeoisie.
Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along.
And sign sing only this approved Party song.
This world we know.
Put your shoulder to the wheel.
Come, can’t you hear the working class?
As burdens make us groan?
We don’t have means of production.
Our labor’s all we own.
Workers of the world, unite!
End capitalist reign!
Socialism makes you lose
Nothing but your chains!
I’ve actually sung this version in jest enough–typically with one or more of my sisters–that I have a bit of a difficult time with the actual words when it’s sung in church. The second line of the chorus in particular (“And sing only this approved Party song”) completely dominates the original line in my head.
So, I know that rewriting hymns is a popular enterprise. What favorite hymns have you ever rewritten to what warped ends?