John Brown's Body

 

James Buchanan

Song and Lyrics: "John Brown's Body Lies A-Mouldering in the Grave"
The song and music to John Brown's Body originated during the American Civil War with the soldiers of the Massachusetts 12th Regiment. The catchy tune was originally used as a marching song. The lyrics to the song were changed over time reflecting the life events of the famous militant abolitionist John Brown. John Brown played a significant role in the violent conflict referred to as Bleeding Kansas which led to John Brown’s Raid on the Armory at Harper’s Ferry. He was convicted of murder, inciting a slave revolt and treason and was hung as a traitor although revered by many anti-slavery factions in the North as a patriot and a martyr to the cause. His name and memory was immortalized in the words of the song "John Brown's Body".

John Brown's Body Song and Lyrics
James Buchanan was the 15th American President who served in office from March 4, 1857 to March 4, 1861. One of the important events during his presidency was John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry. This article provides the words and lyrics of "John Brown's Body Lies A-Mouldering in the Grave".

John Brown's Body - The Tune by William Steffe
The catchy tune to "John Brown's Body was written in 1856 by William Steffe (1830–1890) who used a camp-meeting song with the traditional "Glory Hallelujah" refrain for the basis of the song. The camp-meeting songs became popular during the Christian revivalist movement referred to as the Second Great Awakening.

John Brown's Body: Union Army Song
The words and lyrics to the John Brown's Body changed from the simple words and repetitive phrases learned by rote at religious meetings to more complex and sophisticated words and lyrics aspiring to a greater poetic and literary quality with highly significant meanings. The new words and lyrics to the John Brown's Body song took on this new, highly patriotic flavor with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. The song "John Brown's Body" became one of the most popular marching songs for the Union army.

Picture of John Brown's Body

Picture of John Brown

John Brown's Body: Early Words and Lyrics
One of the early versions of the John Brown's Body song were as follows. Compare the simplicity of these words and lyrics to John Brown's Body with the later version of the song.

John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
But his soul goes marching on.

CHORUS: Glory, glory, hallelujah,
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
His soul goes marching on.

He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
He's gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
His soul goes marching on.--CHORUS

John Brown's knapsack is strapped upon his back,
John Brown's knapsack is strapped upon his back,
John Brown's knapsack is strapped upon his back,
His soul goes marching on.--CHORUS

John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
His soul goes marching on.--CHORUS

The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
His soul goes marching on.--CHORUS

 

Presidential Seal

 

John Brown's Body: William W. Patton words and lyrics
Rev. William Weston Patton (1821-1889), was a passionate abolitionist who wrote the following words to the tune of John Brown's Body. William Patton wrote these words to John Brown's Body in October 1861  which were published in the Chicago Tribune on December 16, 1861. The publicity surrounding the raid on Harpers Ferry was covered right across the nation. People were extremely familiar with the events and the role of the fanatical abolitionist John Brown. The words and lyrics of the first verse emphasizes John Brown's heroic status trying to free slaves, the second to his exploits in the violent conflict referred to as Bleeding Kansas, and the third verse reflects the events of the raid on Harpers Ferry and his hanging. The words and lyrics to the verses written by Rev William Patton are as follows, each verses ending with the "Glory, glory, hallelujah" chorus:

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, 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.

For additional facts and information refer to John Brown’s Raid on the Armory at Harper’s Ferry and his life story in the John Brown Biography and Timeline

John Brown's Body for kids: Julia Ward Howe words and lyrics
The words and lyrics to the John Brown's Body changed over time but the most famous lyrics to the tune were written by Julia Ward Howe which she called  "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The words and lyrics to this famous Civil War era song make no mention of John Brown but use the "Glory, glory, hallelujah" chorus

John Brown's Body for kids - President James Buchanan Video
The article containing story of the John Brown's Body song provides an interesting insight into of one of the Important events of his presidential term in office. The following James Buchanan video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 15th American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1857 to March 4, 1861.

 

 

 

John Brown's Body
 
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James Buchanan Presidency from March 4, 1857 to March 4, 1861
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James Buchanan Presidency and John Brown's Body words and lyrics for schools, homework, kids and children

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