"Preacher and the Slave" was written by Joe Hill, the IWW's premier poet and songwriter, and was printed in the third edition of the "Little Red Songbook." Sung to the tune of the old religious hymn, "Sweet Bye and Bye," this song was a scathing criticism of bourgeois morality which exhorted workers to accept their miserable condition on earth in exchange for "pie in the sky." Hill asked the working masses to take their fate into their own hands and work for the creation of a society in which those who do not work shall not eat.

"The Preacher and the Slave," sung by "Haywire Mac" McClintock, interviewer Sam Eskin, from 'Don't Mourn--Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill,' Smithsonian Folkways (SF40026). Provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1990.


By Joe Hill

(Tune: "Sweet Bye and Bye")

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right;
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:

You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

And the starvation army they play,
And they sing and they clap and they pray,
Till they get all your coin on the drum,
Then they tell you when you're on the bum:

Holy Rollers and Jumpers come out,
And they holler, they jump and they shout
"Give your money to Jesus," they say,
"He will cure all diseases today."

If you fight hard for children and wife-
Try to get something good in this life-
You're a sinner and bad man, they tell,
When you die you will sure go to hell.

Workingmen of all countries, unite,
Side by side we for freedom will fight:
When the world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we'll sing this refrain:

You will eat, bye and bye,
When you've learned how to cook and to fry;
Chop some wood, 'twill do you good,
And you'll eat in the sweet bye and bye.


© Copyright Labor Arts Inc.