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The Battle Hymn of the Republic
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"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is an American abolitionist song.The lyrics were written by Julia Ward Howe in November 1861 and first published in The Atlantic Monthly on 1 February 1862, that became popular during the American Civil War.
The tune was written around 1855 by William Steffe. The lyrics at that time were alternately called "Canaan's Happy Shore" plus "Brothers, Will You Meet Me?" and the song was sung as a campfire spiritual. The tune spread across the United States, taking on many sets of new lyrics.
Thomas Bishop, from Vermont, joined the Massachusetts Infantry before the outbreak of war and wrote a popular set of lyrics, circa 1860, titled "John Brown's Body" which became one of his unit's walking songs. According to writer Irwin Silber (who has written a book about Civil War folk songs), the original lyrics were not about John Brown, the famed abolitionist, but a Scotsman of the same name who was a member of the 12th Massachusetts Regiment. An article by writer Mark Steyn maintains that the men of John Brown's unit had made up a song poking fun at him, and sang it widely.  Though "Canaan's Happy Shore" has a verse and chorus of equal metrical length, "John Brown's Body" has a longer verse to accommodate the words packed into its line.
Bishop's battalion was dispatched to Washington, D.C. early in the Civil War, and Julia Ward Howe heard this song during a public review of the troops in Washington. Whatever the accuracy of Silber's and Steyn's accounts, the lyrics heard by Howe were about John Brown the abolitionist. Her companion at the review, the Reverend James Clarke, suggested to Howe that she write new words for the fighting men's song. Staying at the Willard Hotel in Washington on the night of November 18, 1861, Howe awoke with the words of the song in her mind and in near darkness wrote the verses to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" . Of the writing of the lyrics, Howe remembers, "I went to bed that night as usual, and slept, according to my wont, quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight; and as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the stanzas, I said to myself, 'I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.' So, with a sudden effort, I sprang out of bed, and found in the dimness an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper." 
Howe's "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was first published on the front page of The Atlantic Monthly of February 1862. The sixth verse written by Howe, which is less commonly sung, was not published at that time. The song was also published as a broadside in 1863 by the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments in Philadelphia. In Howe's lyrics, the words of the verse are packed into a longer line, contrasted with the chorus's short refrain. Both "John Brown" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" were published in Father Kemp's Old Folks Concert Tunes in 1874 and reprinted in 1889. Both songs had the same Chorus with an additional "Glory" in the second line: "Glory! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!" 
Julia Ward Howe was the wife of Samuel Gridley Howe, the famed scholar in education of the blind. Samuel and Julia were also active leaders in anti-slavery politics and strong supporters of the Union.
In later years, when this song was sung in a non-military environment, the clause "let us die to make men free" was sometimes changed to "let us live to make men free". Sometimes, more "inclusive" language is used and it is sung as "let us live to make us free".
The sixth verse is often omitted. Also, a common variant changes "soul of Time" to "soul of wrong", and "succour" to "honor".
The Battle Hymn of the Republic is usually played at the conclusion of the national convention of the Republican Party. It was also the basis for the anthem of the American consumers' cooperative movement, "The Battle Hymn of Cooperation", written in 1932.
The lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic appear in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermons and speeches, most notably in his speech "How Long, Not Long" from the steps of the Montgomery, Alabama Courthouse on March 25, 1965 after the 3rd Selma March, and in his final sermon "I've Been to the Mountaintop", delivered in Memphis, Tennessee on the evening of April 3, 1968, the night before his assassination. In fact, the latter sermon, King's last public words, ends with the first lyrics of the Battle Hymn, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
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 See also
 Further reading
- Jackson, Popular Songs of Nineteenth-Century America, note on "Battle Hymn of the Republic", p. 263-4.
- Scholes, Percy A. (1955). "John Brown's Body", The Oxford Companion of Music. Ninth edition. London: Oxford University Press.
- Stutler, Boyd B. (1960). Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! The Story of "John Brown's Body" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Cincinnati: The C. J. Krehbiel Co.
- Clifford, Deborah Pickman. (1978). Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Biography of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Little, Brown and Co.
- Vowell, Sarah. (2005). "John Brown's Body," in The Rose and the Briar: Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad. Ed. by Sean Wilentz and Greil Marcus. New York: W. W. Norton.
 External links
- 1917 Sheet Music at Duke University as part of the American Memory collection of the Library of Congress
- "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", Stevenson & Stanley (Edison Amberol 79, 1908)— Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project.
- Easybyte - free easy piano arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic
- The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Facsimile of first draft
- Sheet music for The Battle Hymn of the Republic, from Project Gutenberg
- MIDI for The Battle Hymn of the Republic from Project Gutenberg
- The Battle Hymn of the Republic sung at Washington National Cathedral, mourning the September 11, 2001 attacks.
- Recording of original version of Battle Hymn of the Republic