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Songs of the Cologne Catholic Workers' Clubs (1896-1899)
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The wheels stand still, the anvil is silent.
The flames blaze in vain.
And hammer and saw lean on the flywheel,
They are all resting together.
They rest powerless, if one person wants:
If God’s machine, Man, stands still.

We struggle and create in harsh need,
We strain strong arms
Only because the Lord has so commanded
That He may have mercy on us:
Not human will, not money and possessions
Drives the foaming blood through the veins.

And even if half the world despises us,
And even if the revolution denounces us:
On the cross, there hung a brave hero
Who has ennobled our labor;
His blood, so red, and our sweat,
Are a prize made holy by fierce effort.

Therefore brothers, extend the calloused fist to one another,
And stand without shaking;
And even if the storm roars from below as well,
Hell must surrender;
And even if the weakling quakes and falls,
We hold the entire world before God.



Source: Ernst-Detlef Broch, Katholische Arbeitervereine in der Stadt Köln 1890-1901 [Catholic Workers’ Clubs in the City of Cologne 1890-1901]. Wentorf, 1977, S. 81-82, 116-17.

The original German songs, together with the above translations, appear in Raymond Chien Sun, Before the Enemy is within our Walls: Catholic Workers in Cologne, 1885-1912: A Social, Cultural and Political History. Boston: Humanities Press, 1999, S. 305-08.

Translation: Raymond Chien Sun; reproduced here with permission.

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