Tag Archives: lyris

Scripture at Sunrise 7.3.09

“After that the end will come when He will turn the Kingdom over to GOd the Father, having put down all enemies of every kind.  For Christ will be King until He has defeated all His enemies, including the last enemy—death.  This too must be defeated and ended.  For the rule and authority over all things has been given to Christ by the Father.”  -1 Corinthians 15:24-27

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.
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.”
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.
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.
He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

 Story Behind the Song
Julia Ward Howe wrote these lyrics in the heart of the Civil War.  She sent the words to the Atlantic Monthly magazine and received an honorarium of five dollars.  But the money wasn’t her concern.  Her purpose was to provide some wholesome lyrics for the tune of “John Brown’s Body Lies A-Moldering in the Grave.”  She accomplished that and more.  When President Abraham Lincoln first heard the hymn, he asked to have it sung again. 

The text is filled with biblical allusions.  The expression “grapes of wrath” refers to Revelation 14:19; the sounding trumpet is probably from Revelation 8.  For the Christian, the message of this song is that God’s truth is eternal.  Although circumstances may appear overwhelmingly difficult, God will still accomplish His purposes, and His truth will endure. 

It can be dangerous to identify political causes or even national patriotism with God’s truth.  Nations may rise and fall, but God’s truth remains forever.  “His truth is marching on.” 
[from The One Year Book of Hymns, July 4 entry]

Learn more about the history of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”