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.
I have seen him in the watchfires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps.
I have read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps,
His day is marching on.
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.”
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgement seat;
Oh, be swift my soul, to answer him; be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.
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.

Title:Battle Hymn of the Republic

Author:Mrs. Julia Ward Howe

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:September 26th, 1863

Keywords:religion, slavery, war


These song lyrics composed by Julia Ward Howe and set to the folk tune of ‘John Brown’s Body’ became very popular as emblematic first of military resolve and religious justification, then of more general patriotic fervour. In this instance they are published just the year after they first appeared in Atlantic Monthly, and show a clear sympathy for the cause of the Union and abolition. One of the things to consider when imagining the publication context of these poems is how they were received when published with no accompanying explanation or introduction. Although it is tempting to see poems which espouse a particular political message as reflecting the politics of the newspaper or its editors, in truth there was often an allowance for a relatively broad ideological discourse in the area of poetry. The emotional resonance of the pieces was as important as their particular political colour. – SR