In 1861 on a visit to some army camps, Julia Ward Howe heard the soldiers singing a grim chant, "John Brown's Body," to the tune of a Sunday-school hymn, "Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us?" by William Steffe who based his creation on a camp-meeting song probably of African-American origin. Deeply moved by the scene, Howe later wrote the words of the "Battle Hymn," one of the most stirring poems to come out of the Civil War. It became the marching song of the Northern Armies, and is undoubtedly one of the best of all marching songs. "John Brown's Body," however, still remains popular.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is tramp-ling out the vin-tage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loos'd the fate-ful light-ning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is march-ing on. Glo - ry, glo -ry Hal - le lu - jah! Glo - ry, glo -ry Hal - le lu - jah! Glo - ry, glo -ry Hal - le lu - jah! His truth is marching on.

Fireside Book of Folk Songs - Margaret Bradford Boni illustrations - Alice and Martin Provenson

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