Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Just as Hebrews 13:21 says,
" whom be the glory forever and ever.  Amen."

"Who is this King of Glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle."
(Psalm 24:8)

"His glory that transfigures you and me."

The Star Spangled Banner is still sung before
our children's baseball and softball games.

Even though we did not sing it in our worship service this past week, this hymn has been a favorite of mine since childhood, as long as I have been slightly obsessed with the Civil War.  So I looked up its story in the book, "Then Sings My Soul."  I'm talking about "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

(This is not Julia Howe)

The hymn was "written by Julia Ward Howe, a leader in women's rights and a ardent foe of slavery.  Julia, who came from a wealthy New York family, was married to prominent Boston philanthropist and humanitarian, Dr. S.G. Howe." 

"In 1861, during the darkest days of the Civil War, the Howes visited Washington, and Julia toured a nearby Union Army Camp on the Potomac in Virginia.  There she heard soldiers singing a tribute to John Brown, who had been hanged in 1859 for attempting to lead an insurrection of slaves at Harper's Ferry: 'John Brown's Body Lies a-mold'ring in the Grave.'  The music was rousing, but the words needed improvement.  Julia's pastor, who accompanied her, asked her to consider writing new and better verses.  That night, after the Howes retired to their room at the Willard Hotel, the words came."

"I went to bed and slept as usual, but awoke the next morning in the gray of the early dawn, and to my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging themselves in my brain.  I lay quite still until the last verse had completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily arose, saying to myself, I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately.  I searched for an old sheet of paper and an old stub of a pen which I had had the night before and began to scrawl the lines almost without looking, as I learned to do by often scratching down verses in the darkened room when my children were sleeping.  Having completed this, I lay down again and fell to sleep, but not before feeling that something of importance had happened to me."

Julia gave her song to a friend who worked at the 'Atlantic Monthly.'  The magazine published it in 1862, sending her a check for five dollars." 

I can't sing this hymn without tears blurring my eyes...


"1.  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.

2.  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;
Hs day is marching on.

3.  He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
O be swift, my soul, to answer Him!  Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

4.  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 live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His Truth is marching on.


Okay, the last verse got me once again and made tears pool in my eyes, speaking of His glory that transfigures you and me.  Earlier verses picturing those hundred circling camps always makes me feel the fear, the longing, the pain, the ache of war around the campfire in the dews and damps.  The price so many paid was with their blood for freedom, like their Savior.  You know this version later was sung in camp instead of John Brown's ditty, same music though, making it a holy cause.  Why else would men die?  It wasn't over their pocket book, but over a moral cause to end slavery. 

God bless America!


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