Mormon Tabernacle Choir Blog

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“Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” Is an Invitation to Engage in the Work of the Gospel

“The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best medicine for despair is service. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired.” —Gordon B. Hinckley

“Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” was composed by William L. Thompson, a member of the Church of Christ, and was first published in a gospel-song hymnal in 1904. In 1909, it was included in Deseret Sunday School Songs and quickly caught on with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a 1950 hymnal for the LDS Church, it included the title “The world has need of willing men.”

The hymn is an invitation to move the work of the gospel along by “doing” instead of “idly looking on.” Not only does it invite us to do the work, it begs us to engage in this worthy cause with the phrase “Do your duty with a heart full of song.” “Let no one shirk” refers to those who were hoping to observe or perhaps shy away from their responsibility.

The composer, William L. Thompson, also composed “Have I Done Any Good?” which is included in the current LDS hymnbook, and “Softly and Tenderly,” which is often performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

In the book Our Latter-Day Hymns by Karen Lynn Davidson, it reads, “This hymn’s message will never be out of date. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented in a 1975 General Conference address titled ‘The Man of Christ,’ a man who follows the Savior ‘quickly puts his shoulder to the wheel rather than calling for a tow truck.’” 

Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel (Lyrics)

The world has need of willing men
Who wear the worker’s seal.
Come, help the good work move along;
Put your shoulder to the wheel.

(Chorus)

Put your shoulder to the wheel; push along,
Do your duty with a heart full of song,
We all have work; let no one shirk.
Put your shoulder to the wheel.

The Church has need of helping hands,
And hearts that know and feel.
The work to do is here for you;
Put your shoulder to the wheel.

(Chorus)

Then don’t stand idly looking on;
The fight with sin is real.
It will be long but must go on;
Put your shoulder to the wheel.

(Chorus)

Then work and watch and fight and pray
With all your might and zeal.
Push ev’ry worthy work along;
Put your shoulder to the wheel.

(Chorus)