Tune of the Day: The Battle Hymn of the Republic
This tune was originally written around 1855 by William Steffe as a campfire spiritual, “Oh brothers, will you meet us on Canaan's happy shore?”. The tune spread across the United States, taking on many sets of new lyrics, and eventually evolved into the well-known “John Brown's Body”.
In 1861 Julia Ward Howe heard the song during a public review of the troops in Washington, D.C. She wrote a poem to the same tune for The Atlantic Monthly, and the magazine called it “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.
The hymn was sung at the funerals of British statesman Winston Churchill, American senator Robert Kennedy, and American presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.