Monday, May 28, 2007

Battle Hymn of the Republic

Memorial Day always reminds me of this line that we used to sing from The Battle Hymn of the Republic:
As He died to make men holy,
let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Turns out that wasn't the original wording. But still apropos, particularly for those who are working for the Kingdom.

Here's the full set of lyrics, courtesy of Wikipedia:

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 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."

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.

7 comments:

Even So... said...

Thanks...

ann_in_grace said...

Beautiful text.
I have always liked this song, but never thought about its lyrics...

God, restore America to its Christian roots.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Matt! That brought back some really neat memories for me.
cpg

Camp Director said...

I agree that we should return America to her Christian roots.

Unfortunately, Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was not a Christian. She was a Unitarian. It shows in the song. Read the lyrics in light of the author's belief that Christ is not God, but a great spiritual teacher. Changes things a little doesn't it?

Gummby said...

Camp Director: I'd never heard that about the author before. Still, even if it's true, no "great teacher" can "die to make men holy," so I have no problem with the song.

And my great desire is that the American church would return to its roots. That is the only way a country can become more Christian--by the movement of its people.

Camp Director said...

"Still, even if it's true, no "great teacher" can "die to make men holy..."

Well, that's certainly true unless holiness means something entirely different to a Christian than to a Unitarian, which it does. To a Unitarian, at least in the mid 19th century, it meant "spiritual and intellectual enlightenment" (whatever that means). You and I already have a grasp on what "holiness" means to a Christian. So, to a Unitarian of the mid-19th century the great teacher Christ died to bring enlightenment. On top of this He wasn't born of a virgin, did no miracles, did not rise on the third day nor ascend bodily into heaven.

"And my great desire is that the American church would return to its roots. That is the only way a country can become more Christian--by the movement of its people."

Couldn't agree more with the above. The US constitution is merely a procedural document. It requires a moral, just and faithful people to operate as designed. "...but when a wicked man rules, the people groan" (Proverbs 29:2).

Gummby said...

Fair enough. I appreciate your comments.

Welcome to the blog!