Battle Hymn of the Republic

The Battle Hymn of the Republic is one of the most famous American Civil War songs and was closely associated with the Union troops.

The tune was originally a camp-meeting hymn "Oh brothers, will you meet us on Canaan's happy shore?" It evolved into the song John Brown's Body. Then in 1861 Julia Ward Howe wife of a government official, wrote a poem for Atlantic Monthly magazine for five dollars. The magazine called it, Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Howe explained in her autobiography that she wrote the verses to meet a challenge by a friend, Rev. James Freeman Clarke. Confederate soldiers sang it with their own version of the words. But Clarke thought that there should be more uplifting words to the tune. The music is attributed to William Steffe. 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.

The Battle Hymn has become perhaps the best-known Civil War song of the Union Army, and has come to be a well-loved American patriotic anthem.

Lyrics

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 lightning
Of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.

Chorus
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watchfires
Of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar
In the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence
By the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.

Chorus
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

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.

Chorus
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 judgement seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him;
Be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.

Chorus
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.

Chorus
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

A.C.W. Home Page | A.C.W. Subject Index | A.C.W. Books | A.C.W. Links

How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (3 September 2007), Battle Hymn of the Republic , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/concepts_battlehymn_republic.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies