Battle Hymn Of The Republic

Lyrics written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861.


Angel


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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

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,
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read His 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.

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

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God 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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty; He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool and the soul of time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.




Historical Note:

The lyrics of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1861 during the American Civil War.

Howe and her husband, both of whom were active leaders in anti-slavery politics and strong supporters of the Union, experienced first-hand a skirmish between Confederate and Union troops in nearby Virginia, and heard the troops go into battle singing "John Brown's Body."  (John Brown was an American abolitionist who led a short lived insurrection to free the slaves).

Julia was taken with the strong marching beat and used the music from that song.  She wrote these words the next day:

"I awoke in the gray of the morning, and as I lay waiting for dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to entwine themselves in my mind.  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."



Biblical References:

The song alludes to several Biblical passages:

1. The first verse begins with an allusion to the coming of the Lord in glory, described in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:26, and Luke 21:27).  The second and third lines contain the images of treading out a winepress and a "terrible swift sword."  These two images appear in both the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Revelation.  Isaiah 27:1 (KJV) states, "In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent," and Isaiah 63:3 states, "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury."  Revelation 14:19 describes an angel casting grapes into "the great winepress of the wrath of God" (14:19), and Revelation 19:15 describes the Word of God who wields "a sharp sword" and "treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."

2. The second verse contains an allusion to the writing on the wall opposite the lampstand in Daniel 5:5.  The interpretation of that writing was the announcement of the destruction of the kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 5:17-28).

3. The third verse refers to God's promise in Genesis 3:15 that a descendant of Eve will someday crush the serpent, while the serpent can strike only at his heel.  Indirectly, this also refers to Revelation 12:1-10, where a woman (often interpreted as being The Blessed Virgin Mary and/or the newly formed Christian Church and/or the ancient Israel) bears a child while engaged in struggle with a dragon/serpent.  The dragon/serpent is defeated.

4. The fourth verse uses the imagery of the divine judgment.  The first line alludes to the trumpet blast preceding the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and the second line, to 2 Corinthians 5:10, which states that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

5. The fifth verse alludes to the glory of the transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3 and Matthew 17:1-2).  It also refers to the doctrine that Christians can be made holy through the death of Christ (Colossians 1:21-22).

6. The sixth verse refers to the Earth as the footstool of God, a claim which appears in Isaiah 66:1, Matthew 5:35, and Acts 7:49.




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