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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Battle Hymn of the Republic?

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 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.











I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.











He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Our God 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 live to make men free; [originally …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.











Ambrose Ervin Huneycutt, one of my ancestors that fought in the War.






He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory!
Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.















The obituary of one of my ancestors who fought in the War, William Rankin "Rank" Michael. You can click on the photo to bring up a larger version.



Stan is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and I'm a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. These are organizations that are interested only in preserving Southern history from history revisionists, promoting pride in Southern history and the sacrifices our ancestors made in their Cause against a tyranneous, corrupt federal government. As we've seen, since then, our fears have been proven true. The federal government has become a corrupt, bloated, bureaucratic, power hungry machine. It's the way of the human condition, as is the desire to overthrow that kind of yoke for freedom. But our ancestors lost The War of Northern Agression and the victors have been re-writing history ever since. As an amateur genealogist I was very proud to be able to prove a lot of our ancestors fought in the War. So far, none had owned slaves at the time of the War. There may be some I haven't found that did, but they would be in the minority in my researches. They fought for a cause similar to the American Revolution...freedom from tyranny and corruption. Some fought willingly, some were forcefully conscripted, some deserted and some fought the entire 4 years. But they were ALL affected, their lives changed forever, their financial losses irrevocable, their poverty assured. What was not destroyed by War, marauding gangs, and Sherman's March...was completed with the Reconstruction. We were sufficiently looted, burned, crushed to rubble and starved. Whatever power and strength we had in the federal government was completely lost until my generation...a good 100 years later. Our ancestors knew this, had already tasted this, and was willing to fight to prevent it but we lost and it happened, just as they feared.

Enough of my opinions...but did you know this about the Battle Hymn of the Republic?

It was written by Julia Ward Howe, wife of Samuel Gridley Howe. Julia W. Howe married Samuel when she was 21 yrs old in 1840. He was unfaithful to her and he was violently abusive to her because he insisted women should be at home and not be public figures He resented her public speeches and poetry writing. Although they discussed divorce, she couldn't go through with it. When he died in 1876, he confessed his affairs to her. They had 6 children of which 4 survived to adulthood. She and Samuel were members of the Unitarian Universalists church, Transcendentalists.

Unitarian Universalism (UUism) is a theologically liberal religious movement characterized by its support of a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." This principle permits Unitarian Universalists a wide range of beliefs and practices. Unitarian Universalist congregations and fellowships tend to retain some Christian traditions such as Sunday worship that includes a sermon and singing of hymns, but do not necessarily identify themselves as Christians. It values religious pluralism and respects diverse traditions within the movement and often within the same congregation. Many see it as a syncretic religion, as personal beliefs and religious services draw from more than one faith tradition. Many Unitarian Universalists consider themselves humanists, while others hold to Christian, Buddhis, Jewish, natural theist, atheist, agnostic, pantheist, pagan, or other beliefs. Some choose to attach no particular theological label to their own idiosyncratic combination of beliefs. This diversity of views is usually considered a strength by those in the Unitarian Universalist movement. Many UU congregations have study groups that examine the traditions and spiritual practices of Neopaganism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Pantheism, and other faiths. Unitarian Universalists (UUs) believe in complete but responsible freedom of speech, thought,belief, faith, and disposition. They believe that each person is free to search for his or her own personal truth on issues like the existence, nature, and meaning of life, deities, creation, and afterlife. -excerpts from Wikipedia

Transcendentalism centered on the divinity of each individual; but this divinity could be self-discovered only if the person had the independence of mind to do so. There is an inner "spark" contained by and connecting all facets of nature, including humankind, which can be discovered not through logical reasoning but only through intuition, the creative insight and interpretation of one's own inner voices. Transcendentalists called for an independence from organized religion; they saw no need for any intercession between God and man. Divinity is self-contained, internalized in every being. Transcendentalism gives credence to the unlimited potential of human ability to connect with both the natural and spiritual world. The chief aim is to become fully aware not only of what our senses record, but also to recognize the ability of our inner voice—our intuition—to wisely and correctly interpret the sensory input. They could find answers to whatever they were seeking. All they had to do was learn to read, through their intuition, the external symbols of nature and translate them into spiritual facts. A transcendentalist declared there was meaning in everything and that meaning was good, all connected by and parts of a divine plan. Emerson refuted evil by insisting it was not an entity in itself but rather simply the absence of good. If good was allowed, evil dissipated. One ray of light can penetrate darkness. According to the transcendentalists, everyone had the power to "transcend" the seeming confusion and chaos of the world and understand nature's signs. Everything on earth has the divine "spark" within and thus is all part of a whole. This philosophy led to an optimistic emphasis on individualism. One aspect of individualism is the value of the individual over society. To "transcend" society one must first be able to look past and beyond it. One must follow his instincts and not conform to what society dictates. -excerpts from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/transcendentalism/ideas/studentdef.html

Julia Ward Howe and her husband, Samuel Howe, were lifelong members of thier UU church and believers in Transcendentalism. He was a radical Unitarian who had moved far from the Calvinism of New England. Julia became a Unitarian "Christian". She believed in God but not in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Samuel and Julia Howe attended the church where Theodore Parker was minister. Parker, a radical on women's rights and slavery, often wrote his sermons with a handgun on his desk, ready if necessary to defend himself for harboring runaway slaves. In a nation even more divided over slavery, John Brown led his failing effort at Harper's Ferry to capture arms stored there and give them to Virginia slaves. Brown was a white man who was known to be insane and who physically abused his sons, who later helped him in his raid. He had been a lifelong failure at everything he had tried to do. But the abolitionists thought they could use Brown to bring about a war that would force the abolition of slavery in the country. John Brown and his supporters hoped that the slaves would rise in armed rebellion, and slavery would end. One of the first men that John Brown and his followers killed in the raid was a freed slave. John Brown was caught, convicted and hanged. Many in the circle around the Howes were involved in the radical abolitionism that gave rise to John Brown's raid. There is evidence that Theodore Parker, their minister, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, another leading Transcendetalist and associate of Samuel Howe's, were part of the so-called Secret Six, six men who were convinced by the cause to bankroll Brown's efforts which ended at Harper's Ferry. Thinking that death would make martyrs for their cause...as long as it was not their death. Another of the Secret Six, apparently, was Samuel Gridley Howe. Knowing that these people deliberately planned, schemed and bankrolled events in order to start the bloodiest war in American history in order to free the slaves should give us pause. Was war necessary to free the slaves? Could it have been done peacefully in time? We will never know, but we do know that these radical abolitionists, who had no belief in a Christian God, were trying to force a violent confrontation that would lead to death and destruction. Reading the descriptions of these beliefs, do we really believe that Julia Howe meant the Battle Hymn of the Republic as a Christian hymn?

After the War, Julia Ward Howe did not rest on her laurels of success. She had seen the devastation of war and it's aftermath and probably questioned her conscience. She became a pacifist at all costs. She encouraged women to demand peace and oppose war in any form. Failing in this she went on to women's suffrage and the vote for women. In 1868, she worked with Lucy Stone to form the Women's Suffrage Assoc. Stone was the first Massachusetts woman to earn a college degree. A year later, she was hired as an agent -- an organizer -- of the American Anti-Slavery Society. In this paid position, she traveled giving speeches on abolition. She insisted on women's rights even in her church. Finally expelled by the Congregationalists for her views and for her own public speaking, she joined with the Unitarians. In 1855 she married Henry Blackwell, a crusader for women's suffrage, and by mutual agreement with her husband she retained her maiden name. She then focused on winning equality for women, generally through legislation, and often in vain. They had a daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, who continued in her mother's footsteps.

Knowing the history of the song and it's writer, should give us pause. Here is what the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans wrote to his pastor. I forwarded it to my pastor as well.

Dear Pastor,
I seat myself today with a heavy-laden heart to write you of a most disturbing occurrence at last Sunday's service. During the Offertory, the choir sang a medley called Hymns of My Childhood, which included The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

I was visibly shaken and was consoled by an equally distressed lady seated in the pew behind me. I have, on occasion, told my wife that if this song was played in Church, I would be compelled to leave. At her urgings and my own desire not to cause her any embarrassment, I reluctantly remained seated Sunday. Please forgive this lengthy letter, as I explain my feelings, feelings that perhaps, all who know the truth of this song may share. I will also give you a short background on this song.

There are many beautiful, inspiring, spiritual hymns and songs of the Christian church that were born out of adversity, times of revival or God's loving relations with His servants. We are blessed with hymns filled with the promise of Salvation, Redemption and Grace. These hymns are deeply revered and appreciated for their rich meaning and spiritual value.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic is not in this lofty category and should not be considered a hymn of the Christian faith due to its sinister origin, the attitude and actions that it promoted, and the philosophy of its authoress, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe. Mrs. Howe was not a Bible-believing Christian. She was a Unitarian- Transcendentalist. As a Unitarian, her religious views were not based on the fundamental theocentric doctrines of the Scriptures, but upon the anthropocentric beliefs of the higher critics of her day, poetic mystics and advocates of transcendental meditation. By her own statements, it is very clear as to what her opinion was concerning Jesus Christ. She was quoted in her biography saying, "Not until the Civil War did I officially join the Unitarian church and accept the fact that Christ was merely a great teacher with no higher claim to preeminence in wisdom, goodness, and power than any other man."

With this in mind, how could her poems, songs or "hymns" be sung in a Christian Church? The Battle Hymn of the Republic is apostasy and blasphemy. In her Battle Hymn, Mrs. Howe arrogantly applied the apocalyptic judgment of Revelation (14:17-20 & 19:15) to the Confederate nation.

She pictured the Union army not only as that instrument which would cause Southern blood to flow out upon the earth, but also as the very expression of God's word. In her view, the South was evil and thus deserved judgment of the most extreme nature: by its' own Armageddon.

Mrs. Howe proclaimed a gospel of human judgment pictured by rows of affixed bayonets. She distorted God's promise of deliverance (Genesis 3:15), by applying it not to Christ, but to the Union soldier who would receive God's grace by annihilating Southerners.

The Apostle Paul warned of this type of false gospel, when he said, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8-9)

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.

Mrs. Howe paints a picture of a vengeful God destroying His enemies 'the South,' and elevating the North's cause to that of a "holy war." Today, if voiced by Islam, we would plainly call this a Jihad and denounce and condemn it as uncivilized. Yet from the moment these lines were first sung, when the Union Army first crossed onto Southern soil, the troops, via the strains of this song, were (according to Howe) authorized agents of the Lord's work.

Thenceforth, of the nearly 700,000 lives lost in that internecine war, the Union dead fell as martyrs, with a special place awaiting them in Heaven. But, Confederate soldiers or even Southern non-combatants, were Satan's minions, the plebeian others, deserving of death and no hereafter.

Simply stated, this Battle Hymn was used as war propaganda to legitimize a cause for the Northern soldiers and citizens in their bloody invasion and destruction of the South. If the prevailing opinion is that the song has a different meaning today, then I have to ask: Have any of the familiar hymns that fill our hearts with the joy of Jesus Christ, also lost or changed their meaning? I dare say, not one of the six other hymns sung in this past Sunday's medley have changed their meaning. I am sure that many sincere well-meaning Christians have sung this Battle Hymn without knowing anything about the author, its original intent or meaning. And I am sure this is the case with many in this instance. But if we know the truth, is it not our duty to teach the truth?

During Sunday's sermon, the Reverend mentioned that Presbyterians always encourage freedom. He also told us to be free and know who we are. He left us with a good message that I would hope to hear more about. I thank the Lord that I am free and I know who I am. I teach my children who they are, as well. A large part of knowing who you are is knowing where you came from and what trials and tribulations your people have been asked to endure.

As our community welcomes people of different cultures and political thought, lease let us not forget those people who gave all they had to protect their Christian way of life. Please let us not discard their memory just because they lost their struggle.

We are all God's children. All the Glory be to God. I am, Respectfully yours,
Michael Givens
Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia Sons of Confederate Veterans

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