home | many pasts | evidence | www.history | blackboard | reference
talking history | syllabi | students | teachers | puzzle | about us
search: go!
advanced search - go!

“A Man’s Thanksgiving”: A Hymn to the God of Business

President Calvin Coolidge captured the spirit of the 1920s when he announced in a speech before the Society of American Newspaper Editors that “the chief business of the American people is business.” Coolidge’s aphorism revealed the centrality of commerce to the nation and its culture in the 1920s, even while it concealed some of the wrenching cultural changes required to accommodate a commercial civilization. An even more forceful publicist for the view that business and spirituality were compatible was Bruce Barton. The son of a Congregational minister, Barton cofounded one of the nation’s largest and best-known advertising agencies. Barton’s greatest fame, however, came from the best-selling book that he published in 1925, The Man Nobody Knows, in which he crafted a new vision of Christ and Christianity that was not simply compatible with, but organically connected to, the business-oriented 1920s. Barton’s aggressive efforts to merge business and Christianity may seem comical in the late 20th century, but his exertions were sincerely felt by him and sincerely received by many Americans. The Jaqua Way, a business publication, offered on its first page the hymn, “A Man’s Thanksgiving,” in the which author thanked the “God of business men” for "my customers and for the power to serve them faithfully."

God of business men

I thank Thee for the for the

fellowship of red-blooded men with songs in their hears and handclasps that are sincere;

I thank Thee for the clatter of typewriters in my ears and for stenographers who are good to look upon;

I thank Thee for upper berths and small-town hotels that make one appreciate the joys of home;

I thank Thee for porters to carry my grips, for taxicabs, for fast trains and safety razors;

I thank Thee for telephones and telegrams that link me with home and office, no matter where I am;

I thank Thee for competition and its spur to greater achievment;

I thank Thee for the joy of battle in the business arena, the thrill of victory and the courage to take

defeat like a good sport;

I thank Thee for hours of despair, loneliness, and heartache that have tried my manhood and not found me


I thank Thee for hard, relentless toil and the inspiration of creating something worth while:

I thank Thee for my customers and for the power to serve them faithfully and well;

I thank Thee for a wife who know all about me and still loves me and helps me;

I thank Thee for children, friendships, books, fishing, the game of gold, my pipe and the open fire on a

chilly evening.


Source: "A Man’s Thanksgiving," American Mercury 16 (April 1929): 427–428.

See Also:"The Ancient Days Have Not Departed": Calvin Coolidge on the Spirituality of Commerce
"Business . . . the Salvation of the World": Celebrating Big Business