A Battle Hymn for the ENTIRE Republic


I’ve had an exchange with some people who equate being Christian with being American. Their recent excitement is over this rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic which appears to have been performed at a public school (your tax dollars at work). The snazzy video was done after the fact, and not part of the tax payer funded performance. Well I got up on my high horse about it, which naturally pissed them off, but then one of them made an interesting comment. Apparently, because this performance and video is a creative effort, and all I did was complain, criticize and not offer a creative effort in response, then clearly I was just lashing out due to the insecurities of my beliefs. Well that’s retarded, but it is a challenge, so here we go…

A Battle Hymn for the ENTIRE Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of a nation of the world
Which sits as a shining city upon the hill for all to behold;
Where protecting the rights of all just never will grow old:
America marches on.

Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
America marches on.

I have seen it in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
Varied faces gathered strong despite the dews and damps;
A united strength which shines beyond the dim of any lamps:
America marches on.

Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
America marches on.

I have read a fiery gospel whose promises are real:
Of a land where no one to another can be made to kneel;
Where from many one united nation is forged as hard as steel:
America marches on.

Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
America marches on.

It sounds forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
Equal rights for all and all are welcome to a seat:
Where together we stand to tackle any problem which we meet:
America marches on.

Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
America marches on.

In the beauty of diversity America doth shine,
With a glory nowhere else on Earth can you ever find;
This melting pot of ours must surely be a sign:
America marches on.

Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
America marches on.

It shines across the world like the morning on the wave;
Its might is there from wisdom, a wisdom which won’t cave,
To hatreds and insecurities of the ignorantly depraved.
America marches on.

Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
Glory, glory A-mer-i-ca!
America marches on.

The arguments by these people for their Christian taint on everything are of course the usual nonsense such as the “cultural significance” of the song, as if wrongs, once perpetrated long enough, magically become not just ok, but cultured and significant. I cannot stomach the idea that one’s worth must be measured and/or celebrated at the expense of others, and, as we’ve seen in this Presidential campaign, that some people are more American, no, the only “real Americans”, because they’re Christian and/or white and/or ignorant shitheads. There’s one America, and we’re all a part of it, for better or for worse. I believe an American once said something about a house divided against itself cannot stand. Now there’s some fucking “cultural significance”. If only he were someone these right wingnuts looked up to and venerated.

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18 Responses to “A Battle Hymn for the ENTIRE Republic”

  1. One of the local high school ‘bands’ (actually more of a mediocre jazz band backed up by a Star Search quality dance team) did a bowdlerized version of the Battle Hymn of the Republic with similar lyrics as part of a half-time show. I detest the Bible belt.

  2. When the deacon and I were ministers, we refused to use The Battle Hymn of the Republic in any of our church services – not Veteran’ Day, Memorial Day, July 4th – not a one of them. Any time we’ve been in a congregation that’s singing that song, we’ve refused to sing it. Now, your version, Philly, we might have considered, as it’s a lot closer to the ideals we held then, and especially to the expanded ideals we hold now.

  3. Very nice, Philly. One of your best. It’s just incredible to me that so many Americans claim to be patriotic and yet have very little understanding of what it means to be an American.

    “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation – at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”

    Another great American said that.

  4. What a f**king crap video! This wasn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace with a f**king lamb. It was the goddam Battle Hymn of the Republic. More importantly, the Confederates were claiming the exact same Jesus as their protector in the battle to keep Black Americans enslaved. That being said, as inspiration for slaughtering one’s fellow man, it’s a hell of a good song.

    My attitude towards religious songs like this is that you sing them as they were written while recognizing their historical contexts. Both my children were choir members so I sat through many holiday concerts. In middle school, every concert had to include a Hanukah song and a Kwanzaa song along with a completely sectarian Christmas songs. The lack of talent was made more excruciating by the fact that there are no good Hanukah songs or Kwanzaa songs. I was very happy when they got to high school where the choir director had them sing classic choral and gospel works. It made for much better listening.

  5. @Evo,

    You are singing this on the podcast right?

  6. As a Christian, I would like to say something. To say one is not a true American because of their beliefs or lack of, is pure ignorance, and goes against everything our fore fathers believed when they fought to found this country.

  7. I don’t feel the context has changed one bit from the time it was written. Those people thought they had their god on their side as they went to battle for their America. How is that any different context than for the ones singing it now waving Obama monkeys at rallies, working to deny gays equal rights, and infusing Christianity anywhere and everywhere they can in public life? Bullshit, and allowing this thing to be sung under the guise of respecting its historical context or “cultural significance” is pure bullshit, too.

    This fucking thing IS NOT A PATRIOTIC SONG! Soldiers went into battle during Vietnam playing Purple Haze. Does that make it a patriotic song? No, although it is pretty cool.

  8. Secretly and all-knowingly, this is the original lyrics to that song:

    My eyes have seen the porny of the cumming of a whore, whorey, whorey, whore-named-Lula….

    It all started out as a British puking drunk song….now you know the REST of the story.

  9. Very patriotic rendition by the way :)

  10. Phillychief,

    I wasn’t suggesting that we should respect the historical context, just recognize it. It was designed to inspire its hearers to believe that they were part of a cause blessed by God. That does not mean they were and it does not mean that singing it today somehow gets God on the side of whatever cause the singer is pushing.

  11. What I don’t like is that we’re supposed to make exceptions for pieces of shit like this BECAUSE of how it was used before. Look, if killing puppies, beating women, or any other such thing got the troops fired up back in the day, should we repeat those actions at ceremonies to celebrate the cultural significance? I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess you’re answer is “no”, so why have this song performed at public functions? Privately, play whatever you want. Publicly, no way.

  12. I just mentally translate “celebrate the cultural significance” to “engage the mythological significance” and it doesn’t bother me so much.

  13. And if women could simply translate “rape” to “sexy fun time”, maybe it wouldn’t bother them so much

  14. {snort}

    Touche’, Philly.

  15. Nobody physically assaults me when they sing Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    I think that video distorts the cultural significance of the song because it suggests that Jesus and the Bible were only on one side of the battle when in fact the defenders of slavery invoked Christianity every bit as much to justify their actions. The cultural and historical significance of the song is not which side Jesus was on but which side justice was on. The references to God in the song are just its mythic elements.

    I am wary of your nonsectarian rewrite of the lyrics because I think it cedes the field. I think the song as written is just as much a part of my cultural heritage as it is of anyone else’s

  16. Nobody physically assaults me when they sing Battle Hymn of the Republic.

    Ok then, perhaps if African Americans translate “nigger” to “super cool person”, it won’t bother them so much.

    Perhaps if we atheists translate “why do you hate America?” to “why are you so awesome?”, it wouldn’t bother us so much.

    Lets also get something straight, just because all their shit is pretend, doesn’t mean it’s harmless to slap all over everything. That’s great you see it all as “mythic”. I see it as bullshit. Either way, it has no place in public space.

  17. Ok then, perhaps if African Americans translate “nigger” to “super cool person”, it won’t bother them so much.

    So should we clean up To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn, too?

  18. Why, are those books read aloud and celebrated as part of patriotic ceremonies which imply anyone who doesn’t say “nigger” isn’t a patriot or a real American? Is there an amendment forbidding government preference of a racial slur or its establishment?

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