John Brown's Body

Song that originated with soldiers of the Massachusetts 12th Regiment and
spread to become the most popular anthem of Union soldiers during the Civil War.


John


Many versions of "John Brown's Body" exist.  Listed here are four different versions.


Version #1 - Original Song:

John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,
His soul is marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
His soul is marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

John Brown's knapsack is strapped upon his back,
John Brown's knapsack is strapped upon his back,
John Brown's knapsack is strapped upon his back,
His soul is marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

His pet lamps will meet him on the way,
His pet lamps will meet him on the way,
His pet lamps will meet him on the way,
They go marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
They go marching on!

They will hang Jeff Davis to a tree,
They will hang Jeff Davis to a tree,
They will hang Jeff Davis to a tree,
As they march along!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
As they march along!

Now, three rousing cheers for the Union!
Now, three rousing cheers for the Union!
Now, three rousing cheers for the Union!
As we are marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Hip, hip, hip, hip, hurrah!


Farm


Version # 2 - Written by William Weston Patton:

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save,
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save,
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

He captured Harper’s Ferry with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened "Old Virginny" till she trembled thru and thru,
They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thruout the sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

The conflict that he heralded, he looks from heaven to view,
On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue,
And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,
For his soul is marching on.

Ye soldiers of freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,
The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,
For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,
And his soul is marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!


Poster


Version # 3 - Written by Edna D. Proctor:

John Brown died on the scaffold for the slave,
Dark was the hour when we dug his hallowed grave,
Now God avenges the life he gladly gave,
Freedom reigns today!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Freedom reigns today!

John Brown sowed, and the harvesters are we,
Honor to him who has made the bondmen free,
Loved evermore shall our noble ruler be,
Freedom reigns today!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Freedom reigns today!

John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave,
Bright o'er the sod let the starry banner wave,
Lo! for the million he periled all to save,
Freedom reigns today!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Freedom reigns today!

John Brown's soul through the world is marching on,
Hail to the hour when oppression shall be gone,
All men will sing in the better day's dawn,
Freedom reigns today!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Freedom reigns today!

John Brown dwells where the battle strife is o'er,
Hate cannot harm him, nor sorrow stir him more,
Earth will remember the martyrdom he bore,
Freedom reigns today!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Freedom reigns today!

John Brown's body lies mouldering in the grave,
John Brown lives in the triumph of the brave,
John Brown's soul not a higher joy can crave,
Freedom reigns today!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Freedom reigns today!


Grave


Version #4:

John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a mouldering in the grave,
His soul is marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

He captured Harper's Ferry with his nineteen men so true,
He frightened old Virginia till she trembled through and through,
They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew,
His soul is marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
His soul is marching on!

He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
His soul is marching on!

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
And his soul goes marching on!

John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
But his soul goes marching on.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
And his soul goes marching on!

The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
On the grave of old John Brown.

Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
Glory, glory hallelujah,
And his soul goes marching on!




Historical Note:

John Brown was an abolitionist and insurrectionist.  He was a strong opponent of slavery, and known to many as a radical. He assisted in helping slaves escape before moving with his family to Kansas.

On 16 October 1859, John Brown led fourteen whites and four blacks in a raid of the little railroad town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia.  His goal was to seize the Federal arsenal and rifle factory, hoping to spark a slave rebellion.  He planned to use the captured arms in an extensive campaign for the liberation of the slaves in the South.  After two days of barricading themselves in the enginehouse, with ten selected prisoners (prominent slaveholders) as hostages, John Brown and his followers were overwhelmed by a storming party of United States militia under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee.  Ten of Brown's men were shot or killed.

John Brown was captured and charged with murdering four whites and a black, with conspiring with slaves to rebel, and with treason against Virginia.  His trial was filled with unusual circumstances.  The defense counsels were appointed by the court and expressed strong misgivings.  The trial was definitely rushed due to the recent insurrection and hysteria in the community.  Brown attended the trial prone upon a cot, since he had suffered multiple saber wounds when captured.  The appointed defense counsel admitted the fact of the crimes, shared in the outrage of the community, and apologized for defending Brown.  The pace, presentation and mood of the court was unusual.  Many legitimate objections were over-ruled in haste.

The jury found Brown guilty of the charges and he was hanged in Charlestown, Virginia on 2 December 1859.  His body was returned to North Elba, New York and was buried in front of his home on December 8, 1859.  The remains of several of Brown's followers, who fought and died at Harper's Ferry, were moved to the small graveyard in 1899.




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