“The Battle Hymn of the Republic”

Author: Words: Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)
Earliest date: 1861
Keywords: religious nonballad patriotic war
Found in: US

Description

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord...." A hymn of praise to a martial God, who sounds forth a trumpet "that shall never call retreat," and to Christ who "died to make men holy." The listener is reminded, "Our God is marching on."

Supplemental text

Battle Hymn of the Republic, The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From sheet music published 1862 by Oliver Ditson & Co.
Title page inscribed
 BATTLE HYMN of the REPUBLIC
Adapted to the favorite Melody
            OF
    "Glory Hallelujah"
        WRITTEN BY
      Mrs.Dr.D.G.Howe
         FOR THE
     ATLANTIC MONTHLY

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 hath 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.

2. 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.

3. I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished 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.*

4. 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.

5. ln 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.

* The sheet music does not close the quote opened in line 2 of
  this verse.

Notes

Yes, you read the recording listing correctly: a recording of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" issued by the Ku Klux Klan. I haven't heard the disk in question, but one would suspect it's been slightly, umm, folk-processed. - PJS

I'm not sure even that follows; there isn't much in the Hymn that is really anti-slavery, and military metaphors are common among reactionary conservatives.

The words to this piece were written by Julia Ward Howe in November 1861 (so Fuld; Johnson says December, as Howe watched a parade of Union troops). It was first published in 1862 with neither music nor the famous "Glory hallelujah" refrain. It was not until the text and music were combined (later in 1862) that the piece became a success. - RBW

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 22-24, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-CivWar, pp. 36-37, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hill-CivWar, pp. 193-194, "Battle-Hymn of the Republic" (1 text)
  4. Krythe 7, pp. 113-132, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Silber-FSWB, p. 286, "The Battle Hymn Of The Rebublic" (1 text)
  6. Fuld-WFM, pp. 131-135+, "Battle Hymn of the Republic (Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us? -- John Brown -- Glory Hallelujah -- John Brown's Baby Had a Cold upon His Chest")
  7. DT, GLORYHAL*
  8. ADDITIONAL: Charles Johnson, One Hundred and One Famous Hymns (Hallberg, 1982), p. 90-91, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Walter de la Mare, _Come Hither_, revised edition, 1928; #176, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (1 text)
  10. ST RJ19022 (Full)
  11. BI, RJ19022