The village blacksmith is a single father raising a family by himself. His greatest happiness lies in his ability to engage in honest work to provide for his family and on Sunday, to hear his daughter sing in the church choir. Her voice gives him great pleasure because it reminds him of the voice of his beloved wife, who is deceased. He imagines that the girl's mother is singing in heaven when he hears his daughter.
The blacksmith knows that he can look 'the whole world in the face/For he owes not any man.' Although he is sad that his wife is no longer with him, he can rejoice in the ability to live life on his terms, 'Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,/ Onward through life he goes...' This brings him much happiness.