A Lesson In History: Do You Know Who John Brown Is?

Writer Author  Marsha Jordan
Christian Article : Christian Living  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer An angry old man, John Brown, believed with all his heart that slavery was cruel and displeasing to God. He and his sons spoke out against what they knew was morally wrong. They tried to stand up for what is right and true, but their efforts didn't work to set the "negroes" free. Society believed that what many Americans did to blacks was acceptable and "natural." They hated John Brown for going against popular opinion. They called him and his family blood thirsty, crazy, religious fanatics who tried to influence others to cause trouble (does that sound like what many Christians -- and conservative talk show hosts -- are called in America today?).

If he'd lived in 2009, John Brown probably would be closely monitored by Homeland Security. He most likely would be included on law enforcement's "domestic terrorist" list -- or, at the very least, he'd be called an "extremist" and ridiculed for his stance on life and liberty for all.

Sadly, John Brown was hanged for treason. But he predicted that the problem of slavery would not go away, even if he was killed for professing the truth about it and the injustice of inhumane treatment toward God's children. John Brown predicted that unless America changed the way they de-valued human life, God's wrath would rain down on this country.

Later, "the great emancipator," Abe Lincoln, confirmed that John Brown had spoken the truth and "all men are created equal." Too bad John Brown and his family couldn't have lived to hear President Lincoln's words or see the unfolding of their dream -- when America would give to every human being the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (How many of us have that same dream today for America's most vulnerable?)

A song was written about John Brown, as a warning to all of America about God's judgment. You've heard what's been called the greatest song ever to come out of America. It's a song all Americans know. Or, at least, they SHOULD know it! I'm not absolutely certain that American school children are being taught this song today; but I sure hope so. Unfortunately, John Brown's story -- and this song -- probably is not "politically correct" in modern America because of its strong religious emphasis.

Here are the words of the original song (which were later changed to the familiar song you may know):

John Brown by William W. 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, 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.

Inspired by that song, here is the "revised" version, Battle Hymn of the Republic

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,
He has loosed the fateful lightening of His terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish`d rows of steel,
"As ye deal with my contemners, So with you my grace shall deal;"
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

Hear the song and take a minute to listen to the story behind this song and both authors, as told by Orson Wells, by using the links below.

Hear The Song
Story By Orson Wells

Editor's Comment:

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