Back before the time of the Civil War, here in America, we didn’t have much music we could call our own. What we did have were African and European transplants. But music played an important role and so many of these songs were transformed into Camp Revival Hymns.
One of those hymns was, “Say Brother Will We Meet You On the Other Shore?” The Yankee soldiers took that melody and changed the words to commemorate the death of a political sympathizer and it went like this: “John Brown’s Body Lies a-moldering In the Grave!”
Well Julia Ward Howe heard the soldiers words and she found them to be offensive. So she penned her own lyrics in the form of a poem and sent them off to the Atlantic Monthly. The editor loved it, published it and sent her a check...for $4.00
Sometime later at a Washington rally, President Abraham Lincoln heard her version of the song and the effect was magic! With tears streaming down his cheeks, he exclaimed, “Sing it again!” And we’ve been singing it ever since. That $4 poem has become the most beloved patriotic song ever written!