Thursday, December 06, 2018

"Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the funeral service for George H. W. Bush (via PBS)

Here is the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” from the funeral of George H. W. Bush today in Houston, TX, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics in 1861 to overlay “John Brown’s Body”.

The music was composed by William Steffe in 1856.  The key is B-flat Major.

When I was in Mixed Chorus in Ninth Grade at Swanson Junior High School in March 1958, we sung it at a festival of music with the combined choirs of all the middle schools at the time.  (We got the concert in before a blizzard a couple days later.)  The audience is invited to sing along the final refrain.

The music certainly reaches for the heavens, like the end of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.
The service also offered “Onward Christian Soldiers”, which sounds rather militant on the right today.  Bu that hymn was used near the end of the film “A Canterbury Tale” (Movies blog, March 15, 2011) to great effect (a music score which quoted the Third Symphony of Havergal Brian, also, as adopted by Allan Gray).

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