Saturday, February 7, 2009

motab needs a new signature

Blasphemy in Song

By some mistake no one could explain, there snuck into the green hymn book a wee bit of blasphemy. We speak, of course, of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. We all know the words. I hear it is the Tabernacle Choir's most requested number. Just say no!

The tune was from what became the Union marching song, "John Brown’s Body" (begins by repeating three times: "John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave")

"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."

It is a disgrace that the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" even appears in a Christian hymnbook alongside of "Our Savior's Love." The author was not Christian and wrote the words as Unionist Civil War propaganda. It is no more a Christian hymn than "White Christmas."

The third verse, blessedly omitted from most hynmals, gives something of the true flavor or the work:

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel[i.e. Union cannon barrels]:
"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."

The very idea that the coming of the Union Army was akin to the coming of the Lord is blasphemous in the extreme.

In 1901, in the wake of American imperialism in the Spanish and Philippine Wars, Mark Twain penned a parody of the "Battle Hymn," which is more to the point. Verses include:

"We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom-and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich –
Our god is marching on."

Vote "No" on TBHOTR!

Thanks to Laurence M. Vance

P.S. Ms. Howe, eventually horrified by what the War wrought, later repented and wrote another anthem, including:

"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

"From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God"

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