JOHN BROWNS BODY

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs

JOHN BROWNS BODY

“John Brown’s Body” (originally known as “John Brown’s Song”) is a famous Union
marching song of the American Civil War. The tune arose out of the folk hymn tradition
of the American camp meeting movement of the 1800s. During the American Civil War
numerous versions and variants of the words to “John Brown’s Body” were created as
marching songs by units of the Union Army, celebrating the famous abolitionist John
Brown. Some researchers have claimed the tune’s roots go back to a “Negro folk song”,
an African-American wedding song from Georgia, or to a British sea chantey that
originated as a Swedish drinking song. Given that the tune was developed in an oral
tradition, it is impossible to say for certain which of these influences may have played a
specific role in the creation of this tune, but it is certain that numerous folk influences
from different cultures such as these were prominent in the musical culture of the camp
meeting, and that such influences were freely combined in the music-making that took
place in the revival folk movement.
John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave, /|
John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave,
But his soul goes marching on.
Chorus:
Glory, glory, hallelujah, /|
Glory, glory, hallelujah,
His soul goes marching on.
He’s gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord, /|
He’s gone to be a soldier in the Army of the Lord,
His soul goes marching on.
Chorus:
John Brown’s knapsack is strapped upon his back, /
John Brown’s knapsack is strapped upon his back,
His soul goes marching on.
Chorus:
John Brown died that the slaves might be free, /
John Brown died that the slaves might be free,
His soul goes marching on.
Chorus:
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down, /
The stars above in Heaven now are looking kindly down,
His soul goes marching on.
Chorus: