The Battle Hymn of the Republic is best know for its opening line “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.” The music was appropriated from an older song (John Brown’s Body) but the lyrics were written by Julia Ward Howe in 1951.
Published first in the Atlantic Monthly, the song is a rousing hymn. It links the American Civil War with the judgment of God, blurring the line between patriotism and theology.
My version was an attempt to put the song in the context of the Salvation Army street bands of the 1800s. A little tinny but with lots of gusto, this anthem was widely used. It marks an important use of Gospel music as patriotic rhetoric.