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Written by the socialist, Woody Guthrie.

O man o man I wish I could play it! I can see the video, but in a computer in a bar, there is no sound!

grumpy in a bar on a Mildly Melancholy Fourth is surely worthy of a poem. I wish I thought I could write it.


ugh Hope that fixes it.


I fixed it. And you're right, that's a great title.

"Written by the socialist, Woody Guthrie." Yes, but a good song anyway. Fortunately "This land belongs to Washington D.C" wouldn't have worked with the tune.

Thinking about the idea of "This Land" as national anthem, I'm not so sure it would be a good idea. It's pretty thin musically compared to the current one or to some other possible candidates, such as "America" aka "God Save the Queen." But its last verse would be considered intolerable right-wing theocratic stuff.

I was just pulling your leg; actually these days, I am told, it is pretty hard to find a State socialist. Pretty much all socialists believe in democratic worker ownership, which is what distributists want for larger enterprises. Of course modern socialists also have a heavy emphasis on identity politics, which eliminates them as an alternative.
Speaking of nationalistic hymns, I hate it when they are sung in church, which they pretty much are when a holiday falls on a Sunday. I head for the door instead of waiting for the song to end.
I have never seen this done in a Byzantine church; in fact it would seem pretty much impossible, even though Byzantine Catholics are by and large as much Americanists as their Latin brethren.

Ol' Woody probably was a state socialist, insofar as he had well-defined ideas beyond righting injustice. A lot of his pals were communists, and he wrote for The Daily Worker.

That depends somewhat on the hymn for me. I don't really mind America the Beautiful, which is the one I think I've encountered most often.

There was a pretty full repertoire of patriotic songs (including the Battle Hymn of the Republic, make of that what you will) at the Byzantine church this last Sunday.

That's funny, I was thinking about this exchange on the way home from work, and that the Battle Hymn is one that irritates me.

My Country 'Tis of Thee. It's not about God at all until the last verse and we never get there.


"Battle Hymn" is by far the worst American nationalist hymn! I am shocked that a Byzantine church would do such a thing.

I am shocked when we sing America the Beautiful in US RC churches and walked out on a Battle hymn

I'm sort of glad to hear y'all say that, as I wondered if my southern sensibility was a factor, the South having been the object of Julia Ward Howe's wrath in that song.

This discussion has had the unfortunate effect of causing one of the songs I hate most to get stuck in my head: "Let There Be Peace On Earth." The lyrics are fine as far as they go--who can argue with "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me"? But the Tin Pan Alley-style music turns it into something I can only imagine being sung by a smarmy Las Vegas entertainer in a tux with glitter on the lapels. "To taaaake each moment and liiiiive each moment in peace eternalyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...". [shudder]


Call the exorcist!

I've heard "Battle Hymn of the Republic" sung in Catholic churches in England. Out of an American context it just comes across as a collection of allusions to the major prophets. I'm not sure I haven't heard it sung on Christ the King (for the "judgement seat" reference).

Do Americans sing "I Vow to Thee My Country"?

Wasn't it "Battle Hymn" that one of the Medjugore people claimed Mary likes a lot? if not that then something equally incongruous. I thought it was pretty strange. I don't recognize "I Vow".

Sorry, Janet. It did cross my mind that I could be inflicting the same problem on someone else, but I was too intent on expressing my annoyance to be stopped by that.

Well that is one more reason to reject Medjugore...
I hate the Battle Hymn because it appropriates biblical imagery for a nationalist cause, and I'd hate it just as much if it was written against the Nazis; it is the reinforcement of America's messiah complex that I object to.
And I share your horror of "Let There Be Peace" for the exact same reason: it is crappy Las Vegas music, however noble the sentiment.

I've never really liked "Let There Be Peace..." but I guess I always considered it more of a children's song -- tolerable when kids sing it but sappy for adults.

I hate the "Battle Hymn" -- triumphalistic, warmongering garbage.

My Southern sensibility is definitely a factor in my reaction to Battle Hymn. Whatever the faults of the South were, I'm afraid I couldn't ever cozy up to that one no matter what the words were.


Yeah, and she (Julia Ward Howe) was probably a dang Unitarian or something.


And now all I can hear is:

Glory, glory, hallelujah
Teacher hit me with a ruler

I like the Allan Sherman version better.

Oh, SNJ. I see it's Monday.


I kind of like singing America the Beautiful in church. It's basically a prayer asking God to bless the country, to preserve what is good about it and correct what is wrong. Despite what Johnny Cash seems to think in the video, the verbs whose subject is God are in the subjunctive, not the past indicative.

Yes, I cringed a bit at that, although I could not have described the mistake grammatically. But I agree about America the Beautiful (think I mentioned it somewhere above). It has those good lines

Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law

There appears to be a pretty slim chance of that at present.

´triumphalistic warmongering garbage´ Rob G and I agree on something non-cinematic!

Yes, those are my favorite lines, too.

I hate to admit it, but some lines of the Battle(axe) Hymn really struck me when I was growing up--"the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword," for instance. Pretty vivid. Even then, though, I had a vague sense that it was a bit more bloodthirsty than was really appropriate.

Mac, I first came across the Battle Hymn in a book with large writing and pictures - poems and ballads for children. I didn´t come from a Christian family. I was around seven and I loved it. I had no idea what any of it meant - in the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea?¿? But like Rob G as an adult I find it horrible as used as a Christian hymn. I can understand someone singing it on the way to the Battle of Gettysburg, but to sing it as Mass?¿?

I would never have seen that sidebar - it took Janet to spot it. I would love to write something about the camino called ´grumpy in a bar on a mildly melancholic fourth´, maybe eg a little piece about the camino for FT. But then I would have to change my nom de plume

It sounds a lot more interesting than sleepless in Seattle.

That "beauty of the lilies" line doesn't even make sense, does it? But that's another bit that I thought sounded cool. Also the grape-trampling.

Glad you're not in hospital.

No, it doesn't make sense, but none of it makes sense when you are little and that sounds pretty. I'm sure I had no idea what "vintage" or "the grapes of wrath" meant when I first heard it. It's like I didn't know why they had that word "elemento" in the middle of the ABCs.



Even the name "Battle hymn" should be enough to tell you that it doesn't belong in church. It amazes me that it's a staple of Sundays near patriotic civil holidays here in Maryland, which is after all south of the Mason-Dixon line.

But as a battle song it's pretty inspiring. It belongs on a shelf with Danny boy--songs you can love but just not in church.

Paul, I have never heard "I Vow to thee my Country" sung in the US. Or "O Valiant Hearts" either, which was sung every Remembrance Day in Toronto.

I missed your 2:48 comment above, Anne-Marie.

We southerners are disposed to have a bit of a regionalist chip on our shoulders, so I don't think I can love Battle Hymn in or out of church. Especially now that I know JWH was a New England Unitarian progressive, a type I tend to disdain.

I find it impossible to think of Maryland as southerners, although I know that's true about the M-D line, and about Maryland's southern sympathies in the Civil War. A few years ago I heard a Marylander claiming southerness say that they like to think of themselves as southerners with shoes and more teeth. Well, that was the end of any impulse I might ever have had to consider them part of the family. Like I said, a chip on the shoulder.

As far as I can remember I've never even heard either of those Canadian-British songs.

The first time I ever visited Maryland it felt completely Southern to me--half of the time I couldn't even understand what people were saying. The following week I met someone from North Carolina who laughed out loud at me and said, "Why, Merrlan ain't hardly suthn at all!"

My part of Maryland is suburban DC and that really is not part of the South.

Were those rural Marylanders? I'm willing to believe that there are southerners in Maryland, just not that it's a southern state, in the usual sense. I was surprised to learn a few years ago that there are southerners in Indiana. I don't mean just individuals, but pretty much the same culture and speech.

there´s lots of hill billies in Indiana. I like em. My father says the only Americans he likes are the ones who can shoot the left eye out of a squirrel at 200 yards

I like the one I know, too. It's kind of funny--she seems to think of herself as a midwesterner but nobody would ever know she wasn't from Alabama if she didn't tell them.

I'm afraid it ain't many Americans at all anymore who would meet your father's standard.

They mostly weren't rural Marylanders. I was just too much of a Yankee and a Canuck to understand them.

I think you're exactly right that there are Southerners here but it's not a Southern state in the usual sense.

I sometimes stop and think about the way certain things are pronounced by southerners and wonder how anybody else would understand them. E.g. "fidna" = "fixing to". "I'm ohn" = "I'm going to". "Mama and them" = "Mamanem".

My semi-rural Maine cousin and my rural Oxfordshire friend couldn't understand each other's English.

My father once taught ESL and he had a fund of stories in which his students encountered real, live English. E.g. "I would like a ham sandwich, please." "Heratago?"

I really don't know how any one ever learns English at a conversational level. I suppose the same must be true of every language. I never got past the basics in any other language and that was hard enough.

Well, even "fixing to" in clear English. Do people use that outside the South. Of course, I doubt anybody ever says "fixing to." The clearest you would hear would be, "fixin' ta."


Stan and Pius are staying with hill billies from Kentucky while I´m walking across Spain. I would count them as Southerners. I´m pretty sure they could shoot a squirrel dead at that distance, if not the left eye

No doubt, and the Indiana southerners I know are from just on the other side of the Kentucky-Indiana border. So I shouldn't have been surprised.

A double blister would make me grumpy, too.

Very true, Janet. I meant to say something about "fixing to," actually, but got distracted. Not even all southerners say it but we probably all know what it means.

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