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about

The Miners’ Lifeguard has been sung from picket lines and union halls on both sides of the Atlantic through many bitter disputes, in and beyond the coal fields. It holds a particular resonance in the former mining towns of Britain, where memories of the 1984 miners strike remain raw to this day.

The song is another instance of co-opted Christian music. The tune was taken from the North American hymn Life is Like a Mountain Railroad. At some point in the late 19th or early 20th century the words were changed so that they made more sense, and a master piece was born.

The song has been in our repertoire since the very beginning. It remains, in our opinion, the finest union hymn of them all. Its lessons, which we take as our watchwords, will be relevant for as long as profit directs the industry of humankind: look after yourself, look after each other, never trust the Bosses, for you and they hold no interest in common.

lyrics

A miner's life is like a sailor's
'Board a ship to cross the wave;
Every day his life's in danger,
Still he ventures being brave.
Watch the rocks, they're falling daily,
Careless miners often fail;
Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

CHORUS:
Union miners, stand together,
Do not heed the owner's tale;
Keep your hands upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

You've been docked and docked again boys,
You've been loading two for one;
What have you to show for working
Since your mining days begun?
Worn out boots and worn out miners,
And your children looking pale.
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

In conclusion, bear in memory,
Keep the password in your mind.;
Our workers strength will not be broken,
When in union we combine.
Stand up tall and lstick together,
Victory for you will prevail,
Keep your hand upon your wages
And your eyes upon the scale.

credits

from We Bid You Welcome Brother Debtor, released May 19, 2016
Traditional arranged by 12 Dead in Everett.

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12 Dead in Everett England, UK

A low-down, seditious trio playing old time, folk and rebel music. Songs to fan the flames of discontent and tell your boss to go to hell. Sweet harmonies of reason in a world deaf to exploitation.

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