The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Story
The “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, is a poem written by the abolitionist writer Julia Ward Howe on November 1861. The piece was first published on February 1862 in The Atlantic Monthly under the title we know today. James T. Fields, the editor, paid Mrs. Howes five dollars for the piece. Outside America, it was known as “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” The song is a very well-known and popular American patriotic song that is linked to the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age (Old Testament, Isaiah 63; New Testament, Revelation 19).
The “John Brown’s Body” song was wildly popular in the early days of the Civil War. The song had nothing to do with the notorious abolitionist leader hanged on December 2, 1859 at Harper Ferry. The song was later incorporated to him and acquired new verses that were sung by Federal troops and Union sympathizers alike. The song was sung in an old Methodist hymn "Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us?" by William Steffe.
Julia Ward Howe was touring Union army camps near Washington, D.C. with Reverend James Freeman Clarke and with her husband, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe on November 1861. The group began to sing “John Brown's Body” along with some of the popular war songs during the trip. Reverend Clarke suggested Mrs. Howe write new lyrics to the familiar tune to which she replied that she always thought to do so. It was in the following morning that Mrs. Howe, according to her own words, "awoke...in the gray of the early dawn, and to my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging themselves in my brain. I lay quite still until the last verse had completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily arose, saying to myself, 'I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately.'"
The words found on the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” have echoed down the decades and awakens the strength of the United States, including its moral courage and optimism. The song is present to the march of the soldiers who liberated millions of people. The song was a call of action and sacrifice for a common cause.