The Battle Hymn Of The Republic (aka John Brown's Body)

(music from "Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us?" by William Steffe, 1858; lyrics by Julia Ward Howe, 1862)

FZ album(s) in which song has appeared:

Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1):

Comments:

Marc De Bruyn (emdebe@village.uunet.be)—September 7, 2003

About 1856 William Steffe wrote a camp-meeting song with the traditional "Glory Hallelujah" refrain; it started with the words "Say, brothers, will you meet us on Canaan's happy shore?" The tune had such an infectious swing that it became widely known. Early in the Civil War, a regiment stationed in Boston included a soldier named John Brown. This regiment using Steffe's tune sang about the fiery John Brown of Kansas who shortly before had made his stand against slavery, but directed it as a jest toward their contemporary John Brown. This version, using the words "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on", soon became popular among the Union troops.

In 1861, after a visit to a Union Army camp, Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910) wrote the poem that came to be called "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Howe reported in her autobiography that she wrote the verses to meet a challenge by a friend, Rev. James Freeman Clarke. As an unofficial anthem, Union soldiers sang "John Brown's Body"; Confederate soldiers sang it with their own version of the words, but Clarke thought that there should be more uplifting words to the tune. Howe met Clarke's challenge. The poem has become perhaps the best-known Civil War song of the Union Army, and has come to be a well-loved American patriotic anthem. The words as published in the February, 1862, issue of The Atlantic Monthly are slightly different from her original manuscript version as documented in her "Reminiscences 1819-1899", published in 1899. Later versions have been adapted to more modern usage and to the theological inclinations of the groups using the song.

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord / He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, / He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword / His truth is marching on / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on / I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps / They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps / l can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps / His day is marching on / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on / I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish'd rows of steel, / "As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;" / Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel / Since God is marching on / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on / He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat / He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat / Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! / Our God is marching on / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on / In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, / With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: / As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, / While God is marching on / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! / His truth is marching on"

Conceptual Continuity:

More U.S.A. patriotic songs:

 

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