The story of the writing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic

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Some more Civil War history on this July fourth.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic became one of the most popular songs in the North during the Civil War, and was also an important rally song used during the 1950s/1960s civil rights movement. And its central theme is stated by its last stanza:

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.

That stanza in many ways encompasses much of American history, since many of the original colonies were formed by deeply religious Christians who had made their religion and its moral rules central to their lives. That faith ended up being seeped in much of American culture for the next four hundred years, and guided the country’s actions both in domestic and foreign policy.

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