The Origin of John Brown’s Song

17 December 2009

John Brown, abolitionist, a man of action, called “a misguided fanatic” by Abe Lincoln, who reportedly said, “These men are all talk. What we need is action – action!”, who raided the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia to arm the slaves, who was tried for treason and murder and hanged, was a catalyst to the american civil war.

Say, Brothers

(1st verse)
Say, brothers, will you meet us (3x)
On Canaan’s happy shore.

(Refrain)
Glory, glory, hallelujah (3x)
For ever, evermore!

(2nd verse)
By the grace of God we’ll meet you (3x)
Where parting is no more.

(3rd verse)
Jesus lives and reigns forever (3x)
On Canaan’s happy shore.

John Brown’s Body

John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave; (3X)
His soul’s marching on!

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah! his soul’s marching on!

He’s gone to be a soldier in the army of the Lord! (3X)
His soul’s marching on!

(Chorus)

John Brown’s knapsack is strapped upon his back! (3X)
His soul’s marching on!

(Chorus)

His pet lambs will meet him on the way; (3X)
They go marching on!

(Chorus)

They will hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree! (3X)
As they march along!

(Chorus)

Now, three rousing cheers for the Union; (3X)
As we are marching on!

(From the Library of Congress:[34])

The version by William Weston Patton

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on.

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on.

He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened “Old Virginny” till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, they themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on.

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on.

The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,
On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.
And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,
For his soul is marching on.

Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,
The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,
For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,
And his soul is marching on

References:

* text from: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brown’s_Body , licenced under GFDL-3.0 and CC-by-SA
* George Kimball http://digital.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=newe;cc=newe;rgn=full%20text;idno=newe0007-4;didno=newe0007-4;view=image;seq=00379;node=newe0007-4%3A1

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