Time for a Global Anthem

In CounterPunch (Oct. 3) Ishmael Reed suggests it is time for a new national anthem, perhaps one written by Stevie Wonder. I am sure the result would be better than the present slaveholder’s anthem (which millions now honor by going for a beer when it comes on). However, the time is past for national anthems or for celebrating the nation in any form.

What about an international anthem? I propose the one W.E.B. Du Bois called “the noblest war song of the ages.” It would not be the first time that a song of American origin became a global anthem: We Shall Overcome was sung from Ireland to South Africa. Both songs were products of the same movement of global scale significance. As a public service, I reproduce the words here. Some may find the lyrics too God-drenched for their taste; that doesn’t trouble me:

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 hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished 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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
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.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
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*,[14]
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

Julia Ward Howe and the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment

This originally appeared on the Hard Crackers website.


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Noel Ignatiev is the author of How the Irish Became White (Routledge, 1995), and co-editor, with John Garvey, of the anthology Race Traitor (Routledge, 1996).  He blogs here. He can be reached at noelignatiev@gmail.com

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