Program Notes for Battle Hymn of the Republic

Composer: Julia Howe
Arranger: Peter Wilhousky

Julia Ward Howe, a prominent poet, abolitionist, and social activist, wrote the words for this tune after attending a public review of Union troops in 1861.

On hearing the troops sing “John Brown’s Body,” she said, “…the next day I awoke in the grey morning twilight, and the long lines of the poem began to twine themselves in my mind. I said to myself, ‘I must get up and write these verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.’”

And so she wrote what was to quickly become the most popular song in the union during the Civil War, a song that is as poignant today as when it was written.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the [name of the singing group, if present] [and the] [name of the band] now brings you Peter J. Wilhousky’s stirring arrangement of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.