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Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis

Jeff Davis is a retired radio-TV journalist living in Gainesville, GA. Active in civic and political affairs, he is past president of the Georgia Jaycees, former vice president of the US and the world Jaycees, former campaign chairman of the Georgia Republican party. He voluntarily serves as chairman of the Georgia Heritage Council. He is a collateral descendant of President Jefferson Davis and a member of SCV Camp 1418 in Cleveland, GA.

Battle Hymn: Its Falsehood Marches On -- Commentary by J. A. Davis

For some time I've been thinking about writing a piece about the blatant falsehood and propaganda contained in The Battle Hymn of the Republic. There have been some well written commentaries over the years (see links below) on the Hymn's context and meaning, but nothing too recent.

Lo and behold, thanks to our friends at Southern Heritage News and Views, who have great talent for picking up otherwise little noticed stories, the work has been done for me...and you too.

It is a June 28th column by Roland Mann, editor of The Piggott Times (Arkansas). Who could have said it better?

Having personally pursued some of the questions and answers Mr. Mann addresses, in the spirit of the truth we at Georgia Heritage Council continually try to bring you the unvarnished facts, as good or negative as they may be, for your own consideration.

Over the years I have asked church leaders and music directors if they are aware of the background and real story behind The Battle Hymn. The answer from most is somewhat affirmative. They have considered it. Even discussed it, only to be directed to continue to use it, often.

I have asked "Isn't this a poke in the eye of real history?" The answer has usually been something on the order of "We have a lot of parishioners who are not Southern, but significant influences in our church."

You know the interpretation of that.

So much for "Give Me That Old Time Religion."

All the more reason we understand why left leaning churches such as the South Carolina Conference of United Methodists have now narrowly voted to ban all Confederate symbols. I often wonder if they plan to go out in their church yard cemeteries and dig up all those Southern and Confederate symbols buried therein to "tramp out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored."

These same hypocrites talk about peace, brotherhood, unity and ugh, diversity.

In the more than twenty years I lived in the Washington area, I enjoyed the concerts given by the service bands. One time I took one of my Georgia daughters to a Marine Band concert where they played The Battle Hymn.

On the way home I asked her how she liked the concert. She said "I think they must have DIED when they played Glory Glory To Old Georgia." I thought to myself as we went on our way, Why even explain it? because she may have been more right than she will ever know.

We at GHC love the assemblage of states our Founders gave us. We would like to see them stay within the parameters so well conceived and established (1787). This is evident, I believe, by all who contribute regularly to make the GHC website the literary leader it has turned out to be.

On behalf of these regulars who share their views with you, Steve Scroggins, who does some serious articles like his Father's Day piece, as well as some of the widest circulated political satire in Georgia, Jim Dean, who has become The Grass Roots Insurgent, The real Steel Magnolia, Joan Hough, Frank Gillispie who has a penchant for making you laugh while he makes a point, Calvin Johnson, one of the most devoted and widely published Southern story tellers I know, Bill Vallante, a New York Yankee who provides some of our best material, Mike Crane who reveals the truth about our economics that no one else bothers to publish. Among others who should be noted is the dean of Southern writers, Frank Conner, whose limited retirement articles appear on our pages.

From all of us at GHC, let's remember those roots of liberty and independence so dear despite the intrusions daily imposed on them. From us to y'all, have a safe and eventful Independence Day.

Please read the editorial below by Brother Mann.

Jeff Davis is a retired radio-TV journalist living in Gainesville, GA. Active in civic and political affairs, he is past president of the Georgia Jaycees, former vice president of the US and the world Jaycees, former campaign chairman of the Georgia Republican party. He voluntarily serves as chairman of the Georgia Heritage Council. He is a collateral descendant of President Jefferson Davis.

Should Southern Christians sing this?

By Roland Mann, Times Editor
The Piggot Times

With the Fourth of July holiday creeping up on us, residents are beginning to anticipate the celebrations and annual festivities. Some things we do, we don’t know why… “we’ve just always done it that way.” Did you know, though, the city of Vicksburg, Miss., did not celebrate the fourth for over 80 years? S’true. July 4 is the day it surrendered to U.S. troops.

As we near the fourth, patriotic tunes will flood the airwaves and churches. One popular tune, however, shouldn’t be sung in our churches as it is certainly not “Christian” and is definitely not patriotic for Southerners (Northerners might consider it patriotic).

The Battle Hymn of the Republic began as the camp-meeting song “Say Brothers, Will You Meet Us on Canaan’s Happy Shore.” It became a popular Union army ballad when members of the 12th Mass. Infantry wrote new words and renamed it “John Brown’s Body.” The song was not about the famous terrorist John Brown who attacked Harper’s Ferry and assorted places in Kansas, but one of the men in the 12th. Over time, it did become about that John Brown.

Julia Ward Howe, who is given credit for writing the song, visited a Union camp, and rewrote the lyrics the next day.

Howe was married to Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, a well-known radical abolitionist and a financial supporter of the abolitionist-terrorist John Brown. Most historians believe Howe was likely one of the “Secret Six” financial contributors of John Brown.

The Howes were devout Unitarians. As such, Julia denied the divinity of Jesus and did not believe in the Holy Trinity—elements, which I’m betting all the Piggott clergy will say are crucial to the “Christian” faith.

In fact, many Christian hymnals have removed her third verse because it doesn’t line up with most Christian beliefs. It reads as such:

I have read the fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel
As ye deal with My comtempters, so with you My grace shall deal
Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.

“Burnished rows of steel” is a reference to bayonets, and the “serpent” is a reference to the South (The Union plan to split the Confederate States was actually called the “Anaconda Plan”).

Yet, Howe’s tune is heralded as a “Christian” tune and sung in churches.

Further, the double meaning behind Howe’s lyrics is the conquest and utter destruction of Southerners. Howe was not inspired to write the lyrics after a revival meeting, but after a tour of a Federal camp.

Her lyrics, used as an inspirational battle tune even during The War, are about Lord Lincoln using his armies to vent out his vengeance on the South, proving not that God was on the side of the North, but as Voltaire put it, “God is always on the side of the big battalions.”

As Americans, we wouldn’t revel in the destruction and death of over 2000 killed at Pearl Harbor. We wouldn’t sing, “The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor and they killed 2000 men, they sunk the Arizona and the Utah went down too. He has loosed the fateful lightning of His kamikaze plan, God’s truth is marching on.” Yet, in essence, that is what every Southerner is doing when they sing the Battle Hymn. I had two grandfathers serve in WW2 and I couldn’t sing the above. I had grandfathers serve in the Confederate army and I can’t sing Howe’s version either.

www.piggotttimes.com/articles/2007/06/28/news/news6.txt

Related Links
Blasphemy in Song - Laurence M. Vance

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated - Mark Twain parody

The Battle Hymn Refuted - David O. Jones

‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ - What It Really Means - Michael Dan Jones

‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ - What It Really Means - Michael Dan Jones

The Battle Hymn of the Republican - Lydia McGrew

Battle Hymn a Christian hymn? - SCVCamp469

America’s Jacobin Ideologues - Thomas DiLorenzo

WHY THE SOUTH SECEDED - Hon. John H. Reagan (1903)

Should Southern Christians sing this? - Roland Mann


Battle Hymn of the Republic

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.
(Chorus)
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.
Chorus
I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my condemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on."
Chorus
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.
Chorus
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.
Chorus
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.
Chorus

The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated (otherwise known as The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date)) was written in 1901 by Mark Twain, as a parody of American imperialism, in the wake of the Philippine-American War. It is written in the same tune and cadence as the original Battle Hymn of the Republic.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Brought Down to Date)

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps—
His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom—and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich—
Our god is marching on.

* NOTE: In Manila the Government has placed a certain industry under the protection of our flag. (M.T.)


Mark Twain's parody effort has inspired countless modern satirists to parody the song; here's just one example below by an unknown author.

BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLICANS

Mine Eyes have seen the bungling of that stumbling moron Bush;
he has blathered all the drivel that the neo-cons can push;
he has lost sight of all reason 'cause his head is up his tush;
The Doofus marches on

I have heard him butcher syntax like a kindergarten fool;
There is warranted suspicion that he never went to school;
Should we fault him for the policies - or is he just their tool?
The lies keep piling on.

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
His wreckage will live on.

I have seen him cut the taxes of the billionaires' lone heir;
As he spends another zillion on an aircraft carrier;
Let the smokestacks keep polluting - do we really need clean air?
The surplus is now gone.

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Your safety net is gone!

Now he's got a mighty hankerin' to bomb a prostrate state;
Though the whole world knows its crazy - and the U.N. says to wait;
When he doesn't have the evidence, "We must prevaricate."
Diplomacy is done!

Oh, a trumped-up war is excellent; we have no moral bounds;
Should the reasons be disputed, we'll just make up other grounds;
Enraging several billions - to his brainlessness redounds;
The Doofus marches on!

Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
Glory! Glory! How he'll Screw Ya'!
THIS .... DOOOO .. FUSS .... MAR...CHES....ON!

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