William Steffe

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William Steffe (1830–1890) was a South-Carolina born Philadelphia bookkeeper and insurance agent who is credited with collecting and editing the musical tune for a camp-meeting song with the traditional "Glory Hallelujah" refrain, in about 1856.[1] It opened with "Say, brothers, will you meet us / on Canaan's happy shore?" The tune became widely known.

Early in the American Civil War, this tune was used to create the Union army marching song "John Brown's Body", which begins with the lyrics "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on."

In November 1861, Julia Ward Howe, having heard this version, used the tune as the basis of her new verse, later known as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".


  1. ^ Annie J. Randall, "A Censorship of Forgetting: Origins and Origin Myths of 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'", in Music, Power, and Politics, edited by Annie J. Randall, Routledge, 2004, p. 12, 15, 16.
  • C. A. Brown (revised by Willard A. Heaps), The Story of Our National Ballads, 1960, pages 174–178
  • William A. Ward (ed.), The American Bicentennial Songbook, Vol. 1 (1770–1870s), 1975, page 236

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