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"Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord" Julia Ward 1819-1910

Posted on 2 February 2017

We all know what it means to be "stirred" in our souls by certain hymns and music. Some people are mysteriously moved by music played in the minor key and others rejoice in what have come to be known as "great Hymns"

The hymn quoted above was written in December 1861, six months after the outbreak of the American Civil War. Mrs. Howe (nee Ward) heard the Union troops singing the ballad "John Brown's body" as they marched to the fray and it was suggested to her that such a grand tune deserved far better words. Mrs. Howe wrote the words that same night.

It was published in "the Atlantic Monthly" of February. 1862 under the title "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".

As far as is known only one slight alteration has been made in the words originally composed by Mrs. Howe. It occurs in the third verse: the
authoress wrote,

"As we died to make men happy let us die to make men free."
And we sing today,
"As we died to make men happy let us live to make me free."

Although usually sung to the traditional tune "John Brown's body" - a tune that gives the hymn a decidedly American flavour, a very good tune named "Vision:" was composed for these words by the late Sir Walford Davies (1869-1941). It is a splendid tune and makes the humn a delightful one to sing anywhere in the English-speaking world.

We remember, with affection, the singing of this great hymn at the Service held in St. Paul's Cathedral on the occasion of the funeral of the late Sir Winston Churchill and the profound impression the words left with us. Truly, Our God is marching on!

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