Military Wiki
""Battle Hymn of the Republic""
Composer William Steffe, 1856; arranged by James E. Greenleaf, C. S. Hall, and C. B. Marsh

The "Battle Hymn of the Republic," also known as "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" outside of the United States, is a lyric by the abolitionist writer Julia Ward Howe using the music from the song "John Brown's Body". Howe's more famous lyrics were written in November 1861 and first published in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1862. The song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age (Old Testament, Isaiah 63; New Testament, Revelation 19) with the American Civil War. Since that time, it has become an extremely popular and well-known American patriotic song.


Oh! Brothers[]

The "Glory, Hallelujah" tune was a folk hymn developed in the oral hymn tradition of camp meetings in the southern United States and first documented in the early 1800s. In the first known version, "Canaan's Happy Shore," the text includes the verse "Oh! Brothers will you meet me (3×)/On Canaan's happy shore?"[1] and chorus "There we'll shout and give him glory (3×)/For glory is his own."[2] This developed into the familiar "Glory, glory, hallelujah" chorus by the 1850s. The tune and variants of these words spread across both the southern and northern United States.[3]

As the "John Brown's Body" song[]

At a flag-raising ceremony at Fort Warren, near Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday, May 12, 1861, the John Brown song, using the well known "Oh! Brothers" tune and the "Glory, Hallelujah" chorus, was publicly played "perhaps for the first time." The American Civil War had begun the previous month.

In 1890, George Kimball wrote his account of how the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Massachusetts militia, known as the "Tiger" Battalion, collectively worked out the lyrics to "John Brown's Body." Kimball wrote:

We had a jovial Scotchman in the battalion, named John Brown. ... [A]nd as he happened to bear the identical name of the old hero of Harper's Ferry, he became at once the butt of his comrades. If he made his appearance a few minutes late among the working squad, or was a little tardy in falling into the company line, he was sure to be greeted with such expressions as "Come, old fellow, you ought to be at it if you are going to help us free the slaves," or, "This can't be John Brown—why, John Brown is dead." And then some wag would add, in a solemn, drawling tone, as if it were his purpose to give particular emphasis to the fact that John Brown was really, actually dead: "Yes, yes, poor old John Brown is dead; his body lies mouldering in the grave."[4]

According to Kimball, these sayings became by-words among the soldiers and, in a communal effort — similar in many ways to the spontaneous composition of camp meeting songs described above — were gradually put to the tune of "Say, Brothers":

As originally published 1862 in The Atlantic Monthly

Finally ditties composed of the most nonsensical, doggerel rhymes, setting for the fact that John Brown was dead and that his body was undergoing the process of decomposition, began to be sung to the music of the hymn above given. These ditties underwent various ramifications, until eventually the lines were reached,—

"John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
His soul's marching on."


"He's gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord,
His soul's marching on."

These lines seemed to give general satisfaction, the idea that Brown's soul was "marching on" receiving recognition at once as having a germ of inspiration in it. They were sung over and over again with a great deal of gusto, the "Glory, hallelujah" chorus being always added.[4]

Some leaders of the battalion, feeling the words were coarse and irreverent, tried to urge the adoption of more fitting lyrics, but to no avail. The lyrics were soon prepared for publication by members of the battalion, together with publisher C. S. Hall. They selected and polished verses they felt appropriate, and may even have enlisted the services of a local poet to help polish and create verses.[5]

The official histories of the old First Artillery and of the 55th Artillery (1918) also record the Tiger Battalion's role in creating the John Brown Song, confirming the general thrust of Kimball's version with a few additional details.[6][7]

Creation of the "Battle Hymn"[]

Julia Ward Howe, 1897

Kimball's battalion was dispatched to Murray, Kentucky, early in the Civil War, and Julia Ward Howe heard this song during a public review of the troops outside Washington, D.C., on Upton Hill, Virginia. Rufus R. Dawes, then in command of Company "K" of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, stated in his memoirs that the man who started the singing was Sergeant John Ticknor of his company. Howe's companion at the review, The Reverend James Freeman Clarke,[8] 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 wrote the verses to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."[9] Of the writing of the lyrics, Howe remembered:

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 pencil which I remembered to have used the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper.[10]

Howe's "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.

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!"[11]

Julia Ward Howe was married to 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. Samuel Howe was a member of the Secret Six, the group who funded John Brown's work.


"Canaan's Happy Shore" has a verse and chorus of equal metrical length and both verse and chorus share an identical melody and rhythm. "John Brown's Body" has more syllables in its verse and uses a more rhythmically active variation of the "Canaan" melody to accommodate the additional words in the verse. In Howe's lyrics, the words of the verse are packed into a yet longer line, with even more syllables than "John Brown's Body." The verse still uses the same underlying melody as the refrain, but the addition of many dotted rhythms to the underlying melody allows for the more complex verse to fit the same melody as the comparatively short refrain.

One version of the melody, in C major, begins as below. This is an example of the mediant-octave modal frame.

<score vorbis=1>\relative c { \partial 16 g16 g8. g16 g8. f16 e8. g16 c8. d16 e8. e16 e8. d16 c4 c8. c16 a8. a16 a8. b16 c8. c16 b8. a16 \partial 2. g8. a16 g8. e16 g4} \addlyrics {Mine eyes have seen the glo– ry of the com– ing of the Lord: He is tramp– ling out the vin– tage where the grapes of wrath are stored; } </score>


Howe submitted the lyrics she wrote to The Atlantic Monthly, and it was first published in the February 1862 issue of the magazine.[12][13]

First published version[]

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 truth is marching on.

I have read a 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[14] 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,[15]
While God is marching on.

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

* Many modern recordings of the Battle Hymn of the Republic use the lyric "As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free" as opposed to the lyric originally written by Julia Ward Howe: "let us die to make men free."[citation needed]

Other versions[]

Howe's original manuscript differed slightly from the published version. Most significantly, it included a final verse:

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!

In the 1862 sheet music, the chorus always begins:

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!"[16]

Recordings and public performances[]

  • Jaye P. Morgan recorded this song on her 1960 MGM Records album titled Up North.
  • In 1960 the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square won the Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus. The single record, which was arranged and edited by Columbia Records and Cleveland disk jockey Bill Randle, was a commercial success and reached #13 on Billboard's Hot 100 the previous autumn. It is the choir's only Top 40 hit in the Hot 100.[17]
  • Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961).
  • Joan Baez performed the song around 1962–63, and a live recording from a concert is featured in the album Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2.
  • Judy Garland performed this song on her weekly television show in December 1963. She originally wanted to do a dedication show for President John F. Kennedy upon his assassination, but CBS would not let her, so she performed the song without being able to mention his name.[18]
  • Andy Williams experienced commercial success in 1968 with an a cappella version recorded at Senator Robert Kennedy's funeral. Backed by the St. Charles Borromeo choir, his version reached #11 on the adult contemporary chart and #33 on the Billboard Hot 100.[19]
  • Johnny Cash performed it on his musical variety show on September 27, 1969, closing the show with The Tennessee Three, The Carter Family, and The Statler Brothers.
  • Anita Bryant performed it January 17, 1971, at the halftime show of Super Bowl V.
  • Elvis Presley began performing a portion of the song as the final portion of the song "An American Trilogy" (which was composed by Mickey Newbury), starting in 1972.
  • The Beach Boys recorded the song on November 5, 1974, with lead vocals by Mike Love.[20]
  • The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performed this song at the inaugural parade of President Ronald Reagan on January 20, 1981.
  • David Mansfield performed an instrumental rendition of the song on guitar for the 1980 Western film Heaven's Gate.
  • The Christian heavy metal band Stryper covered this song on their 1985 album Soldiers Under Command.
  • Hosanna! Music used this hymn in the 20th album of Praise & Worship Series Army of God with the worship leader Randy Rothwell recorded live in 1988.
  • Whitney Houston performed this song at her concert of March 31, 1991 to the troops called "Welcome Home Heroes" also in Shanghai and Beijing on July 22, and July 25, 2004 during the Soul Divas Tour.
  • The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square guest-starred and performed this song on a Season 8 episode, titled "A Winter Carol," on the television series Touched by an Angel.
  • The Washington National Cathedral choirs recorded this song on their 2004 album "America the Beautiful".
  • The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir also sang this song at President Barack Obama's Second Presidential Inauguration Ceremony on January 21, 2013.
  • The Mighty Sound of Maryland performs an arrangement of the song as a part of their pregame show.[21]
  • The Pride of Minnesota performs an arrangement of the song while marching the honor guard down the field through a series of "swinging gates" during their pregame show.[22]
  • The Mother Bethel AME Church Choir from Philadelphia performed this song during the opening day of the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016.[23]
  • A U.S. military choir and band performed this song at the pre-inauguration ceremony of President-Elect Donald Trump on January 19, 2017, at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Jazz musician Jon Batiste recorded a version of the song in partnership with The Atlantic for their podcast Radio Atlantic.[24]
  • The Naval Academy Glee Club performed this song on September 1, 2018 at the funeral of Sen. John McCain at the Washington National Cathedral.


Popularity and widespread use[]

In the years since the Civil War, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" has been used frequently as an American patriotic song.[25]

The song was one of Winston Churchill's favorite hymns, and was played at his state funeral in St Paul's Cathedral in 1965.[26]

It was also one of Walt Disney's favorite songs, and was played at the conclusion of his private funeral on December 16, 1966.

It was performed in St. Paul's Cathedral on September 14, 2001, as part of a memorial service for those lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks.[27]

In association football[]

The refrain "Glory, glory, hallelujah!" has been adopted by fans of a number of sporting teams, most notably in the English and Scottish Premier Leagues. The popular use of the tune by Tottenham Hotspur can be traced to September 1961 during the 1961–62 European Cup. Their first opponents in the competition were the Polish side Górnik Zabrze, and the Polish press described the Spurs team as "no angels" due to their rough tackling. In the return leg at White Hart Lane, some fans then wore angel costumes at the match holding placards with slogans such as "Glory be to shining White Hart Lane", and the crowded started singing the refrain "Glory, glory, hallelujah" as Spurs beat the Poles 8–1, starting the tradition at Tottenham.[28] It was released as the B-side to "Ozzie's Dream" for the 1981 Cup Final.

The theme was then picked up by Hibernian, with Hector Nicol's release of the track "Glory, glory to the Hibees" in 1963.[29][30] "Glory, Glory Leeds United" was a popular chant during Leeds' 1970 FA Cup run. Manchester United fans picked it up as "Glory, Glory Man United" during the 1983 FA Cup Final. As a result of its popularity with these and other British teams, it has spread internationally and to other sporting codes. An example of its reach is its popularity with fans of the Australian Rugby League team, the South Sydney Rabbitohs (Glory, Glory to South Sydney) and to A-League team Perth Glory.

Cultural influences[]

Words from the first verse gave John Steinbeck's wife Carol Steinbeck the title of his 1939 masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath.[31] The title of John Updike's In the Beauty of the Lilies also came from this song, as did Terrible Swift Sword and Never Call Retreat, two volumes in Bruce Catton's Centennial History of the Civil War. Terrible Swift Sword is also the name of a board wargame simulating the Battle of Gettysburg.[32]

The lyrics of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" appear in Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermons and speeches, most notably in his speech "How Long, Not Long" from the steps of the Alabama State Capitol building 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."

Bishop Michael B. Curry of North Carolina, after his election as the first African American Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, delivered a sermon to the Church's General Convention on July 3, 2015, in which the lyrics of The Battle Hymn framed the message of God's love. After proclaiming "Glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth is marching on", a letter from President Barack Obama was read, congratulating Bishop Curry on his historic election.[33] Curry is known for quoting The Battle Hymn during his sermons.

The tune has played a role in many movies where patriotic music has been required, including the 1970 World War II war comedy Kelly's Heroes, and the 1999 sci-fi western Wild Wild West. The inscription, "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord", is written at the feet of the sculpture of the fallen soldier at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France.

Other songs set to this tune[]

Some songs make use of both the melody and elements of the lyrics of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", either in tribute or as a parody:

  • "Marching Song of the First Arkansas" is a Civil War-era song that has a similar lyrical structure to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". It has been described as "a powerful early statement of black pride, militancy, and desire for full equality, revealing the aspirations of black soldiers for Reconstruction as well as anticipating the spirit of the civil rights movement of the 1960s".[34]
  • The tune has been used with alternative lyrics numerous times. The University of Georgia's fight song, "Glory Glory to Old Georgia", is based on the patriotic tune, and has been sung at American college football games since 1909. Other college teams also use songs set to the same tune. One such is "Glory, Glory to Old Auburn" at Auburn University. Another is "Glory Colorado", traditionally played by the band and sung after touchdowns scored by the Colorado Buffaloes. "Glory Colorado" has been a fight song at the University of Colorado (Boulder) for more than one hundred years. The University of Georgia's rivals, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, sing a parody of "Glory, Glory to Old Georgia" called "To Hell with Georgia" set to the same tune.
  • The Allan Sherman parody "The Ballad of Harry Lewis" also uses the music of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".
  • In 1901 Mark Twain wrote "The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated", with the same tune as the original, as a comment on the Philippine–American War. It was later recorded by the Chad Mitchell Trio.
  • A racist version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was also used in the film American History X as Seth Ryan, played by Ethan Suplee, was driving his van and singing along to his own lyrics while it was playing on the radio.[35] Redneck 28 recorded this version of the song on their 2013 album titled "Spirit of the South". Similarly, Oh! What a Lovely War has a scene in which some soldiers make up their own lyrics.
  • "The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley" is a 1971 song by Terry Nelson.
  • "The Burning of the School" is a well-known parody of the song.
  • Melanie Safka's song "Psychotherapy" is a parody of the song, with lyrics such as "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the theories of Freud".
  • The United States Army paratrooper song, "Blood on the Risers", first sung in World War II, includes the lyrics "Gory, gory" in the lyrics, based on the original's "Glory, glory".
  • A number of terrace songs (in association football) are sung to the tune in Britain. Most frequently, fans chant "Glory, Glory..." plus their team's name: the chants have been recorded and released officially as songs by Hibernian, Tottenham, Leeds United and Manchester United. The 1994 World Cup official song "Gloryland" interpreted by Daryl Hall and the Sounds of Blackness has the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".[36] In Argentina the St. Alban's former Pupils Assn (Old Philomathian Club) used the tune for its "Glory Glory Philomathians" as well. Not heard often nowadays it is still a cherished song for the Old Philomathians.
  • In Australia, the most famous version of the song is used by the South Sydney Rabbitohs, an Australian rugby league club – "Glory Glory to South Sydney". The song mentions all the teams in the competition when the song was written, and says what Souths did to them when they played. Each verse ends with, "They wear the Red and Green".[37]
  • The parody song "Jesus Can't Play Rugby", popular at informal sporting events, uses the traditional melody under improvised lyrics. Performances typically feature a call-and-response structure, wherein one performer proposes an amusing reason why Jesus Christ might be disqualified from playing rugby—e.g. "Jesus can't play rugby 'cause his dad will rig the game"—which is then repeated back by other participants (mirroring the repetitive structure of "John Brown's Body"), before ending with the tongue-in-cheek proclamation "Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves". A chorus may feature the repeated call of "Free beer for all the ruggers", or, after concluding the final verse, "Jesus, we're only kidding".[38]
  • American punk rock band Titus Andronicus incorporate lyrics from the hymn in their 2010 songs "A More Perfect Union" and "Richard II".
  • On an episode of WWE Raw that took place prior to the Wrestlemania XXX rematch between The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam, Paul Heyman sang a parody that references Lesnar conquering Taker's Wrestlemania streak.
  • The 1983 song "These Things Take Time" by The Smiths contains the opening line of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", changing "the coming of the Lord" to "the sacred wunderkind".
  • Father Tom Vaughn recorded an instrumental version in 1976 which is played at the beginning of every broadcast of H. Johnson's Jazz Classics on WABE.

Other songs simply use the melody, i.e. the melody of "John Brown's Body", with no lyrical connection to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic":

  • "Solidarity Forever", a marching song for organized labor in the 20th century.[39]
  • "Up Went Nelson" was written to the tune of this song in 1966, by Northern Ireland group "The Go Lucky Four" in reference to the destruction of Nelson's Pillar in Dublin, Ireland, in that year.
  • The anthem of the American consumers' cooperative movement, "The Battle Hymn of Cooperation", written in 1932.
  • Len Chandler sang a song called "Move on Over" to this tune on Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest TV show.[40]
  • The British band Half Man Half Biscuit used the melody for their song "Vatican Broadside".[41]
  • In Finland, the tune, sung with a fast tempo, is mainly known as the children's song "Pikku Matin auto", with the lyrics Pikku Matin autosta on kumi puhjennut, purukumilla paikkaamme sen ("the rubber [tyre] of little Matt's car has been punctured, we'll fix it with bubble gum").
  • The tune has been used as a marching song in the Finnish military with the words Kalle-Kustaan muori makaa hiljaa haudassaan, ja yli haudan me marssimme näin ("Carl Gustaf's hag lies silently in her grave, and we're marching over the grave like this").[42]
  • The Finnish Ice Hockey fans can be heard singing the tune with the lyrics "Suomi tekee kohta maalin, eikä kukaan sille mitään voi" (Finland will soon score, and no one can do anything about it").[43]
  • "Queen's College Colours", written in 1898 by student Alfred Lavell to inspire the Queen's University football team to victory, is also set to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".
  • The Goodies used the tune for their Christmas novelty song, "Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me".
  • The popular folk dance "Gólya" ("Stork"), known in several Hungarian-speaking communities in Transylvania (Romania), as well as in Hungary proper, is set to the same tune. The same dance is found among the Csángós of Moldavia with a different tune, under the name "Hojna"; with the Moldavian melody generally considered original, and the "Battle Hymn" tune a later adaptation.[citation needed]
  • "Balay ko sa langit" ("My house in Heaven") is a popular children's song in one of the Visayan languages of the Philippines (possibly Cebuano).
  • "Trois Milliards de Gens sur Terre" ("Three Billion People on the Earth") is a French language song with lyrics by Eddy Marnay that concern peace among the then 3 billion population of the earth. Singer Mireille Mathieu has covered this song several times, starting in 1982.[44][45][46]
  • Japanese electronics chain Yodobashi Camera uses the music in TV commercials and in-store.[47]
  • The melody is used in British nursery rhyme "Little Peter Rabbit".[48]
  • The melody is used for the children's song "S-M-I-L-E", popularized on the children's television program Barney & Friends. This also used for the camping song I'm being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex from Barney and the Backyard Gang home video, Barney's Campfire Sing Along.
  • The melody is used in the Belgian song "Lied van geen taal".[49]
  • The melody is used in French Canadian Christmas carol called "Glory, Alleluia", covered by Ginette Reno and others.[50]
  • The melody is used in the marching song of the Assam Regiment of the Indian Army: "Badlu Ram ka Badan", or "Badlu Ram's body", its chorus being "Shabash Hallelujah" instead of "Glory Hallelujah" The word "Shabash" in Hindusthani means "congratulations" or "well done".
  • The song "King of the Silver Screen" by Alice Cooper from the album Lace and Whiskey features a sampling of the main motif of the hymn.
  • The song "In the Name of God" by Dream Theater from the album Train of Thought features the first verse and chorus on the hymn near the end of the song.
  • "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" was performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Season 8, Episode 11 of Touched by an Angel called "A Winter Carol". It aired on CBS on December 16, 2001.
  • The Song "Belfast Brigade" using alternate lyrics is sung by the Lucky4 in support of the Irish Republican Army.
  • The Discordian Handbook Principia Discordia has a version of the song called Battle Hymn of the Eristocracy:.[51] It has been recorded for example by Aarni.[52]
  • The Subiaco Football Club, in the West Australian Football League, uses the song for their team song. Also, the Casey Demons in the Victorian Football League also currently use the song The words have been adjusted due to the song mainly being written during the period of time they were called the Casey Scorpions and the Springvale Football Club.

Other settings of the text[]

Irish composer Ina Boyle set the text for solo soprano, mixed choir and orchestra; she completed her version in 1918.[53]

The Burning of the School[]

The Burning of the School (not an official title) is a parody of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic",[54] known and sung by schoolchildren throughout the United States and in some locations in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Like the Battle Hymn itself, the parody is sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body". In versions known to have appeared in print, the opening line always changes the original 'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord' to 'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school.' Also, the first line of the refrain, 'Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!', seems always to be followed in the parody by the line 'Teacher hit me with a ruler.' (A few versions have been collected that change 'Hallelujah' to 'What's it to ya?', but most leave the first line intact.)

The rest of the lyrics vary with time and place, but generally involve the children inflicting various types of mayhem on the school and its staff.

In their 1959 book The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, the British folklorists Peter and Iona Opie recorded that 'Glory, glory hallelujah/Teacher hit me with a ruler' was frequently sung by children in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. An eleven-year-old girl whom the Opies quoted on the subject identified the song as a parody of John Brown's Body. The Opies did not record whether the Market Rasen song had additional lyrics.[55]

Tom Glazer and the Do-Re-Mi Children's Chorus recorded a version of this song under the title of "Battle Hymn of the Children". It was released as the B-side of their 1963 hit, "On Top of Spaghetti".

Sample lyrics[]

  • Some typical lines are:[56]
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
We have tortured all the teachers – we have broken all the rules
We ramrocked the offices and hung the principal
March on, third grade, march on!
Glory, glory, hallelujah
My teacher hit me with a ruler
I hid behind her door with a loaded .44
And the teacher don't teach no more!
  • Another variation has the following lyrics:

There are many variations of this song, which nearly always leave the first two lines of the verse and chorus intact and change the third, with some variations to the fourth. A version sung in the UK goes

Glory, glory hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler
I whacked her in the belly and she wobbled like a jelly
Then she hopped like a kangaroo-o-o

Anthologies containing versions of the song[]

  • Josepha Sherman and T.K.F. Weisskopf, eds., Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood. August House, Atlanta, 1995.
  • News from Lake Wobegon by Garrison Keillor, Highbridge Audio, 1991. ISBN 978-0-942110-38-8


See also[]


  1. The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On by John Stauffer and Benjamin Soskis. Oxford University Press, June 6, 2013. ISBN 9780199339587. p. 21. Accessed via Google Books June 1, 2014
  2. Stauffer and Soskis, p. 18
  3. Stauffer and Soskis, pp. 26–27.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kimball 1890, p. 372.
  5. Kimball 1890, pp. 373–4.
  6. Cutler, Frederick Morse (1917). "The old First Massachusetts coast artillery in war and peace" (Google Books). Pilgrim Press. pp. 105–6. 
  7. Cutler, Frederick Morse (1920). "The 55th artillery (CAC) in the American expeditionary forces, France, 1918" (Google Books). Commonwealth Press. pp. 261ff. 
  8. Williams, Gary. Hungry Heart: The Literary Emergence of Julia Ward Howe. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1999: 208. ISBN 1-55849-157-0
  9. "Julia Ward Howe, 1819–1910". U Ppenn. June 1, 1912. Retrieved 2010-07-02. . See also footnote in To-Day, 1885 (v.3, Feb), p.88
  10. Howe, Julia Ward. Reminiscences: 1819–1899. Houghton, Mifflin: New York, 1899. p. 275.
  11. Hall, Roger L. New England Songster. PineTree Press, 1997.
  12. Howe, Julia Ward (February 1862). "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". p. 10. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  13. Stossel, Sage (September 2001). "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  14. "the beauty of the lilies" a possible allusion to Luke 12:27 – "Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (words of Jesus, in teaching on materialism)
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Further reading[]

  • Claghorn, Charles Eugene, "Battle Hymn: The Story Behind The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Papers of the Hymn Society of America, XXIX.
  • Clifford, Deborah Pickman. 'Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Biography of Julia Ward Howe. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1978. ISBN 0316147478
  • Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047
  • Hall, Florence Howe. The story of the Battle hymn of the republic (Harper, 1916) online
  • Hall, Roger Lee. Glory, Hallelujah: Civil War Songs and Hymns, Stoughton: PineTree Press, 2012.
  • Jackson, Popular Songs of Nineteenth-Century America, note on "Battle Hymn of the Republic", pp. 263–64.
  • Kimball, George (1890). "Origin of the John Brown Song". Cornell University. .
  • McWhirter, Christian. Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2012. ISBN 1469613670
  • Scholes, Percy A. "John Brown's Body", The Oxford Companion of Music. Ninth edition. London: Oxford University Press, 1955.
  • Snyder, Edward D. "The Biblical Background of the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic,'" New England Quarterly (1951) 24#2 pp. 231–238 in JSTOR
  • Stauffer, John, and Benjamin Soskis, eds. The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On (Oxford University Press; 2013) ISBN 978-0-19-933958-7. 380 pages; Traces the history of the melody and lyrics & shows how the hymn has been used on later occasions
  • Stutler, Boyd B. Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! The Story of "John Brown's Body" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Cincinnati: The C. J. Krehbiel Co., 1960. OCLC 3360355
  • Vowell, Sarah. "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, 2005. ISBN 0393059545

External links[]

Sheet music[]


Template:John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

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