Music: US Battle Hymn of the Republic

Alberto Gutierrez says: -I find the US national anthem a little difficult to sing. While I do not dislike the sound of "Dixie's Land" I would prefer instead "The Battle Hymn of The Republic" as a replacement. 

RH: Oh dear! Some Southern WAISers might want Alberto's scalp, since it was a Northern song during the Civil War.  In 1861, after a visit to a Union Army camp, Julia Ward Howe wrote the poem that came to be called "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was published in February, 1862, in The Atlantic Monthly. 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.

Randy Black writes: The politically correct types would never tolerate even a discussion of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as a potential National Anthem on the matter of inferred violence of the words. If the National Anthem ever changes, Americans overwhelmingly would favor "America the Beautiful". Easier to sing, beautiful poetry, harmless and unthreatening to others.
As to the Battle Hymn: Words: Julia W. Howe, 1861. This hymn was born dur­ing the American civil war, when Howe visited a Union Army camp on the Potomac River near Washington, D. C. She heard the sol­diers sing­ing the song “John Brown’s Body,” and was taken with the strong march­ing beat. She wrote the words the next day: I awoke in the grey of the morn­ing, and as I lay wait­ing for dawn, the long lines of the de­sired po­em be­gan to en­twine them­selves in my mind, and I said to my­self, “I must get up and write these vers­es, lest I fall asleep and for­get them!” So I sprang out of bed and in the dim­ness found an old stump of a pen, which I remembered us­ing the day be­fore. I scrawled the vers­es almost without looking at the p­aper.

The hymn appeared in the At­lant­ic Month­ly in 1862. It was sung at the funerals of British states­man Winston Churchill, American senator Robert Kennedy, and American president Ronald Reagan.

Music: “John Brown’s Body,” 19th Century American camp meeting tune. John Brown was an American abolition­ist who led a short lived insurrect­ion to free the slaves.

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: June 11, 2005