Battle Hymn of The Republic

Posted: May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

One of the hymns for this Sunday was Battle Hymn of the Republic. Typical, I suppose for a memorial day weekend but this time I reacted a little differently than most. As I contemplated the words, I could understand why it became so popular in the North during the Civil War.

During my military service I spent some time in what people call the “Deep South”. I liked to take little road trips on weekeds so I did see a lot places including Atlanta, Montgomery, Macon, and Savannah. I also took time to see the battlefields around Richmond, the Chesapeake Bay, the Wilderness, and the Shanendoah Valley. It was barely ten years since the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting rights act of 1965 had passed. The year I was in Georgia the Ku Klu Klan was having thier National convention in Atlanta. I saw other things that were not good. Black people lived on one side of town and white people lived on the ohter. Black people lived in shacks and white people didn’t. Transportation did not exist for poor people who were mostly Black. Laws may change but but it takes longer for hearts.

After a time I did start to understand the Southern point of view on different level that I can’t really put into words. However, when we sang that number today I wondered if the worship leader really understood how split our country remains on many of those states rights issues and how divisive that song could be. I wondered if they ever sing this song in churches in the South. I wondered what would happen if, and even half expected, a small group of folks to start up with “Dixie” in response.

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