Pack Up Your Troubles

Pack up your Troubles was a popular song in the First World War. Sung in music halls and barracks about the country, it even became popular in Germany. The song was consigned to the ‘dud’ draw initially, and its authors, brothers George and Felix Powell, were most amused when it won a competition and became a hit. I passed the site of their birth last month when I visited St Asaph in Wales.
The lyrics are:

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,

And smile, smile, smile,

While you've a lucifer to light your fag,

Smile, boys, that's the style.

What's the use of worrying?

It never was worth while, so

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,

And smile, smile, smile.

Readers of a sensitive disposition should note that a lucifer is a match and a fag a cigarette. Sadly, one brother later suffered as a conscientious objector and the other killed himself. It saddened the pair to learn that this was the ditty with which the troops braced themselves against the mortars and machine guns of Imperial Germany, and that its royalties proved most profitable at times of international conflict. 

The song is as catchy as it is hollow. Kit-bags are not big enough to hold most of our troubles, and smoking causes more grief and expense than it is able to assuage. I thank God that the Bible invites us to ‘cast all your burdens upon Jesus, for he cares for you’. (1 Peter 5:7). These words might not induce me to go marching off to war, but they are a far better cure for troubled days and sleepless nights.


Are we weak and heavy-laden,

  Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Saviour, still our refuge—

  Take it to the Lord in prayer;

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

  Take it to the Lord in prayer;

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

  Thou wilt find a solace there.


-Joseph Scriven