Arise, All Mighty Women

Coming from a wealthy family in the 1800s, Julia Ward Howe was expected to be reserved and subservient.
She was not expected (or encouraged) to think or ask questions or write.
But – if you are a writer, you know this – when there are words to be written, it is impossible not to write.
The words welled up inside her and begged to be freed.
And so she dipped her quill in the ink well and scribbled away.

She had seen such vile and vicious deaths during the Civil War.
She had  heard the men singing the heavy words of “John Brown’s Body“.
She had seen families ripped apart, broken.
And her heart, full of compassion, yearned for a way to make things better.

With the power of her words and encouragement from friends,
And with the echoing of “John Brown’s Body” in her mind,
She sat down to write new lyrics.

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.

She hoped that, with her words, she might be able to provide inspiration, hope.
And it was certainly what the people wanted, needed to hear and the song instantly became popular.

Several years after the war, Howe found herself writing for a women’s rights publication.
Along with many of those forward-thinking activists, she began to advocate for having an annual “Mother’s Day”.
This day, she hoped, would be a day where mothers could come together and talk –
About how best to protect and guide their children,
About how to make the world a better place for them by actively pursuing world peace.

In order to spread the word about “Mother’s Day”,
Howe wrote a piece called the Mother’s Day Proclamation.

When reading it, I was keenly aware of how poinignant those words must have been not only in her day,
But also in our world today:

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.

So while Mother’s Day is certainly a day geared towards mother’s,
It is also a day that each of us should be reminded of the idea behind it:

To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.


In 2006 Lisa Quoriesimo(an independent performing arts professional from California),
using the the Battle Hymn tune and Howe’s Proclamation,
wrote the hymn: Arise, All Mighty Women.

These words could not be more fitting for our days:

Arise, all mighty women of the earth and join with me.
Summon all your sons and daughters from their fears to be set free.
When no mother’s child goes forth to war we’ll know true victory.
Christ’s peace shall reign on earth.

From the bosom of  the devastated earth our voice is one:
We shall not commit injustice in the name of justice done.
We shall not seek honor in the death of any mother’s son.
Christ’s peace shall reign on earth.

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Christ’s peace shall reign on earth.



One Response to Arise, All Mighty Women
  1. Gramama
    May 8, 2011 | 4:28 pm