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Simple but Lovely Poem on the Nature of Daily Work

January 13th, 2007 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

I think this poem goes along well with Dorothy Sayers' "Why Work?" and is a clear statement of the Christian understanding of work. The author is Henry Van Dyke, American poet and writer of that famous hymn, "Joyful, Joyful."


Let me but do my work from day to day,
  In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
  In roaring market-place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
  “This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
  Of all who live, I am the one by whom
This work can best be done in the right way.”

Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
  To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
  Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours,
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.

If you want more Henry van Dyke, you can read about him here, and read his poetry and other writings here.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.