THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
An Honest Examination of the Motives Behind The Composition Of A Most Effective Example Of Humanistic Propaganda
by Charles A. Jennings
There are many beauitful, inspiring, spiritual hymns and songs of the Christian Church that were born out of adversity, during times of revival or God's rich dealings with His servants.
However, there are some songs that have been adopted into Christian hymnody that do not belong there because of their history, and/or doctrine. One such such song that has crept into the Christian and its worship, unnoticed, is the song entitled,"The Battle Hymn of the Republic." This song should not be considered a hymn of our Faith, because of its sinister origin, the attitude and actions that it promoted, and the liberal philosophy of its authoress, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe.
First, concerning Mrs. Howe, she is commonly known as a writer and social reformer, and not as a Bible-believing Christian. After her marriage to Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe in 1843, they moved to Boston and became associated with the famous Unitarian "Church of the Disciples", pastored by the well-known Unitarian transcendentalist, James Freeman Clarke.
Mrs. Howe and her husband became deeply involved in the anti-slavery movement of the 1840's and 50's and edited one of its papers, the Boston Commonwealth". In her zeal and desire for social reform at any cost, Mrs. Howe came to revere the basest of men such as John Brown, the Kansas murderer and terrorist.
After the infamous murdering rampage at Harper's Ferry when John Brown was condemned to die, Mrs. Howe believed that "John Brown's death will be holy and glorious. John Brown will glorify the gallows like Jesus glorified the cross."
As a Unitarian, her religious views were not based on the fundamental theocentric (God-centered) doctrines of the Scriptures, but upon the 19th century liberal anthropocentric (man-centered) beliefs of the higher critics, poetic mystics and the advocates of transcendental meditation. These beliefs can be briefly summed up as the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all men.
By her own statements it is very clear as to what her opinion was concerning Jesus Christ. She said,"Not until the Civil War did I officially join the Unitarian Church and accept the fact that Christ was merely a great teacher with no higher claim to preeminence in wisdom, goodness and power than many other men.
"Having rejected the exclusive doctrine that made Christianity and special forms of it the only way of spiritual redemption, I now accept the belief that not only Christians but all human beings, no matter what their religion, are capable of redemption." These are the same fallacies and heresies which are espoused by the religious and academic liberal establishment yet today.
On the occasion of the writing of the words of the song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", with the blessings of President Lincoln, she wrote words to a popular tune of the day that could be used as a rallying cry of the North in support of their invasion of the Christian South.
The message of this song, shrouded in religious terms was intended to convince the people of the North that they were involved in a "holy war" for a righteous cause.
Simply stated, it was used as typical war propagands by the Lincoln administration for brainwashing the citizens of the North in their bloody invasion and destruction of the South.
Ever since Mrs. Howe wrote the words to this song in December 1861, many sincere well-meaning Christians have unknowingly sung this song with religious zeal and fervor without understanding its original intent and meaning. Along with other prominent Unitarians, as Mrs. Howe viewed the Union troops of the "Army of the Potomac", she was then inspired to write the words that are known and sung today.
She portrayed the Union Army as the "coming of the Lord" going to "trample out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored." She plainly states that "I have seen Him (God) in the watchfires of a hundred circling (Union) camps." To her, Lincoln's 75,000 volunteers were the "Army of God" going forth to slaughter the evil resisters of social reform and progressive centralized government. The "burnished rows of steel" that she mentioned referred to the polished Union cannons that rained down death and destruction upon not only the Confederate soldier, but also upon southern cities and countryside.
At this time in American history, "The South" was quite different in many ways from the North. The South was more agrarian while the North was more industralized. The South more rural while the North more urban; the South advocated the traditional interpretation of the Constitutional principles of our American Founding Fathers for States Rights, and local governmental control as opposed to the Northern Republican party view of centralized governmental powers; the people of the South were more traditional in maintaining their culture dating back to their Celtic ancestors, whereas the North was rapidly losing the racial and cultural traditions through the influx of more liberal ideas of equalitarianism; the educational institutions of the South were more more conservative in thought and practice as opposed to the Northern concepts of universalism, humanism, deism and rationalism that had crept into its once great academic institutions such as Harvard and Yale; at this critical time in our history the South was definitely more adamant in its stalwart defense of traditional Calvinistic Christianity that dated back to the early reformers while the religious establishments of the North were accepting and promoting the fallacious anti-Biblical concepts of the more modernistic approach to such truths as the authenticity and inerrancy of the Scriptures.
In summation, the South held to and practiced a more Biblical form of Christianity while the North was straying from its roots Puritanism and Biblical foundations. During the "War Between the States" of 1861-1865 it was only in the army of the Confederate States of America that God had blessed with a real spiritual revival among the officers and common soldiers where it was estimated by contemporary chaplains and pastors that approximately 100,000 men were genuinely converted to Christ, which became the origin of the Southern "Bible Belt". This is a thrilling story within itself that needs to be told to all Southern parishioners, but it seems to be a well-kept secret known only to a few. This information is given in hopes of informing the Christian church to be aware of the fact that everything that finds its way into our Christian worship is not worthy of our acceptance. Let us heed the admonition of the Apostle Paul given in 1Corinthians 14:15, to sing not only with the spirit, but with the understanding also.
WORDS OF "BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC"
JULIA WARD HOWE
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
He is trampling out the wine press, where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He hath loosed the fateful lightnings of his terrible swift sword,
His truth is marching on.
I have seen him in the watchfires of an 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.
I have read a burning Gospel writ in fiery 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,
Our God is marching on.
He has sounded out the trumpet that shall never call retreat,
He has waked the earth's dull sorrow with a high ecstatic beat,
Oh! be swift my soul to answer him, be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.
In the whiteness of the lilies he was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that shines out on you and me,
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
Our God is marching on.
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.