Bread and Roses

Here is Rose’s teaching video of Bread and Roses.

All

Soprano

Alto

Tenor

Bass

Bread and Roses
Words: James Oppenheim Music: Mimi Farina
Arrangement: Rose Hodgson, after Carol Donaldson and E Peach

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As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched by all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses

As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men
For they are women’s comrades and we fight as one with them
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses

As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing, the ancient cry for bread
Small art and love and beauty, their drudging spirits knew
Yes it is our bread we fight for but we fight for roses too

As we come marching, marching, we’re standing proud and tall
The rising of the women means the rising of us all
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes
But a sharing of life’s glories bread and roses, bread and roses

More about Bread and Roses
The song’s lyrics come from a poem, written by James Oppenheim in 1911. He wrote it to celebrate the movement for women’s rights in the USA and the title was inspired by a speech given by American women’s suffrage activist Helen Todd. She explains the meaning of her phrase:

…Woman is the mothering element in the world and her vote will go toward helping forward the time when life’s Bread, which is home, shelter and security, and the Roses of life, music, education, nature and books, shall be the heritage of every child that is born in the country, in the government of which she has a voice.
Helen Todd, 1910.

The strike of women textile workers in Lawrence Massachusetts in 1912, has gone down in American trade union history as the “Bread and Roses Strike”.

The music was written by Mimi Fariña in the 1970s, and has become an anthem for labour rights, and especially the rights of working women across the world.

Mimi Farina was a prominent member of the New York folk scene in the 1960s. She was the sister of Joan Baez (who sang and recorded this song), married to singer, songwriter and novelist Richard Farina and a close friend of Bob Dylan. She founded the Bread & Roses Presents Foundation which provides ‘free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society’.