Choir Notes

No Toil Nor Labor Fear
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4375

We live in an age of disposable goods. It seems that so many of our material things are made to be enjoyed for a brief moment and then thrown away. If something breaks or loses our interest, we quickly toss it aside and run to the store for a new one.

It wasn’t always that way. Not too long ago, many of our parents and grandparents did not have the luxury of throwing things away. You’ve heard the pioneer adage “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” The pioneers were recyclers long before recycling was trendy.

If an article of clothing became tattered or torn, they mended, patched, and wore it until it no longer fit—then they would cut it up and sew it into a quilt. When a dish broke, they crushed it and mixed it into plaster to make a building sparkle. They transformed husks of corn into dolls and human hair into intricate works of art. Old barrel rings and scraps of wood became toys. Everything had multiple uses; nothing went to waste.

Not only did they need all of their resources, they needed all of their people. Neither things nor people were considered disposable. Everyone from the young children to the elderly had chores, and the whole family depended on them. If eggs weren’t gathered, they ate no eggs. If cows weren’t milked, they drank no milk. If knitting and mending were not done, they had no socks or sweaters to wear. If dishes were not washed, they had no clean plates for dinner that night—paper plates were not an option. Everyone’s role was important. Days were long and luxuries few, but they found happiness and a sense of purpose in their work and resourcefulness.

In our day of relative ease and plenty, the lessons of those pioneers are still relevant, though it may take more creativity to apply them in our families. Teaching our children to conserve resources and to fear “no toil nor labor”1 may not be a matter of survival as it was for the pioneers, but it will certainly enrich our lives and deepen our happiness.

1 “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” Hymns, no. 30.

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