Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day -

John & I did the service yesterday at church. It was "loosely" called an Odyssey of UU music (as seen through the past hymnals that we had available.)

My part was to provide the Prelude, the kids story (in song), provide accompaniment for several of the hymns and provide a short overview of church music in general in less than 10 minutes. Actually, it turned out pretty good, everyone loved the kids song I did (off Cindy Mangsen's Cat Songs album). And my "short overview" went well - I actually learned a few things myself. The Prelude had me stumped though - - I was going to try and learn a new song off of one of the Jim Scott CD's that I bought when he was here in March - but it just wasn't working - Then I had a flash of inspiration - since it was Memorial Day weekend, I would sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" - written in 1961 by Julia Ward Howe, a Unitarian woman, and a hymn from the earliest hymnal that we were exploring.

The tune to this song was written around 1855 and was popular with the words "Caanan's Happy Shore" as a campfire song, then used as a walking song for the troups during the Civil War, as "John Brown's Body". After attending a review of the troups in Washington DC, a friend of Mrs. Howe's suggested that she write new words for this song. According to legend, she went to bed like normal that evening, and awoke at dawn with the words to the song in her mind. She scrambled out of bed, found a writing instrument and scribbled the words down on paper as quickly as she could "lest she fall asleep again and forget them". Now that's inspiration!

The song was published in 1862 in the Atlantic Monthly and quickly became popular. It has been widely used in politics and society, movies and TV, and has been recorded by everyone from Judy Garland to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Today we honor all the men & women who have fought and are fighting today on foreign shores to protect the freedoms that we hold dear. I'd like to mention my friend Emily's son who is in Iraq in the military. Come home safely Jared.

This is not the full text of the song, which has six verses - these are the three that I like best.


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.

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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! His day 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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! While God is marching on.

1 comment:

Franna said...

Comment! I could fake my name and you could think it was someone new, but! you like comments from "old" readers, too. ;-)

Neat lyrics. I only remember the first verse, though parts of the second are familiar. I don't remember the third one you posted at all! It's good to read them now and then. The Star Spangled Banner is another good song to read.

Thanks to all who serve!