Home » Arts and Entertainment » Music

The Battle Hymn of the Republic Still Marches On

Jul 2, 2008
"Mine eyes have seen the glory" is one of the most powerful and recognized opening lines in the history of American song. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is the quintessential fight song of the United States, as well as its call-to-arms.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic has gone through many changes. Its form and lyrics have evolved for years to reach its present incarnation. Begun as a camp meeting spiritual by William Steffe in the 1850s, it was a call to meet on the shores of Canaan, the land of ancient Biblical promise. The main lyric that survived this incarnation was the refrain of "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!" The song traveled across the land quickly, but it was some time before it became known as The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

A regiment of Union soldiers took the tune and fashioned their own pre-Battle Hymn of the Republic marching song. It was called "John Brown's Body." Many assumed it was about the famed abolitionist of the same name, but it was written as a jab to a fellow soldier.

Major General George B. McClellan found the song highly offensive. He even tried to ban it from being sung in the Army of the Potomac, but he was never successful. Verses were gradually added about John Brown the abolitionist, and the original intention of the song was lost to history.

Julie Howe was visiting a Union Army camp along the Potomac when she heard the soldiers singing "John Brown's Body" as they marched. She was struck by the melody and strong rhythm of the song. The Reverend James Clarke, who was by her side as the soldiers marched, hinted that she should write new words for the song.

Howe went to sleep that night, and, as the grey morning light crept into her room, she found a poem forming in her mind. She sprang from her bed, found an old pen and scribbled the words down without even looking at the paper. Five verses of Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic were soon published in The Atlantic Monthly. Though she had written a sixth verse, it has never been commonly sung and is usually not printed.

The Republican Party later adopted The Battle Hymn of the Republic for the closing ceremony of their annual convention. It also became the basis for the American Consumers' Cooperative movement's anthem, The Battle Hymn of Cooperation, in the 1930s.

Through all this, The Battle Hymn of the Republic has remained a shining example of a time when generals would boost soldiers' morale with promises of the glory of God. Its words seem archaic now, but the song is resilient.

Martin Luther King Jr. frequently quoted the verses of The Battle Hymn of the Republic in his speeches, most notably from the steps of the Montgomery, Alabama courthouse. He used the song to inspire others to rise up against oppression, to have faith in righteous actions, and to sacrifice for a greater goal. This is at the heart of the lasting legacy of the song. It is not a call to battle to the death, but a call to battle against the evils of society. God's truth will continue to march on.
About the Author
Duane Shinn is the author of the popular online newsletter on piano chords, available free at "Exciting Piano Chords & Chord Progressions!"
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 178
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources