Rewriting the Lyrics… Julia Ward Howe

 “John Brown’s Body” was a song familiar to many during the Civil War, but the lyrics were re-written into another song entirely. On a visit to Washington DC in 1861, Julia Ward Howe (wife of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe) heard a regiment chanting the song. A companion of her suggested that new words aught to be written for the song.

Later that night, as another regiment sang the song, waking her up from her sleep, Mrs. Howe’s mind pondered over the suggestion. As words began to form in her mind she rose from bed and wrote them down.

She later sold the ‘lyrics’ to the ‘Atlantic Monthly’ for (approx.) five dollars.

One version of the “John Brown’s Body” lyrics:

 

John Brown’s Body

Old John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;

But though he lost his life in struggling for the slave,

His truth is marching on.

Chorus:

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! x 3

His truth is marching on!

 

Now the lyrics from Mrs. Howe:

Battle Hymn of the Republic

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 day is marching on.

Chorus:

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! x 3

His truth is marching on!

The lyrics here only represent the first stanza of both songs…  
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