Approved Party Song #19

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.
Let’s overthrow
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?


  1. Let Us All Throw Hard Rocks at Each Other (rather than, Let Us All Speak Kind Words) and Men Are That We Might Have Joy (rather than, Men Are That They Might Have Joy). Good times.

  2. We didn’t rewrite a song, but. . . In the mid-80s when Def Leppard’s Pyromania came out, my friend and I found “Rock of Ages” in the hymn book. Now whenever I see it or we sing it in church (not often), I sing Def Leppard ‘s “Rock of Ages” to myself, rather than the actual hymn.

  3. Ziff, I like the emphasis on making sure the deaf understand the words. *grin*

    (If that makes no sense, go back and read the chorus slowly and carefully – pronouncing every word precisely as typed.)

    My problem is that the versions of the hymns I create only can be sung to my wife – and she even smacks me when I whisper them to her while we still are in church.

  4. Oops! Thanks, Ray. That’s one of my more persistent typo propensities: “Sign only this approved Party song” sure does sound inclusive.

  5. Also, it’s good to hear that you revise hymns in “adult” ways. I do that sometimes too, and my wife has pretty much the same reaction yours does.

  6. Every Easter song can be reworded for bread baking. My favorite is “Up from the oven he arose!…My sourdough reigns”
    I was visiting a Nazarene church with a friend in high school; they used an overhead projector for hymns and the dry erase had smudged the “d” out. We thought it an improvemnt and sang, “Ah, Lord, GO!” with gusto.

  7. Interesting point about using “be” instead of “do” or “know” in I Am a Child of God, Doc. Sorry my revisions are only silly.

    Thanks, tkangaroo, rondell, and CWC. I particularly like the unintentional revision of “God” into “go.” Actually, you remind me that there were lots of good suggestions on the FMH thread, like adding “between the sheets” to hymns to see how it changed the meaning, as explained by Shelah.

  8. Silly is good. There is a time and place for everything, truth be told, I have also substituted “parents kind of weird” for kind and dear for my daughter as well. I love to see her giggle. It makes my day.

  9. My grandma taught me one: “You can make the pathway bright, if you clean it up at night…”
    Also, if you add “in a bathtub” to the end of every title it’s pretty funny.

  10. Great song.
    After reading Potok’s Davita’s Harp, I have a lot more sympathy for the Communist movement (will saying that get me kicked off the bloggernacle?)

    I’d love to hear the rest of your revised hymnal.


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