Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic was first published 148 years ago today.
My father requested it be sung at the end of his funeral and gave instructions it wasn’t to be played like a dirge. The organist acted on his request which took some of the congregation by surprise and for the first few bars the singers were a few bars behind the music.
The organists told us she’d been taught it was up to her to lead the singers not the other way round. She stuck to the faster tempo and by the second verse the singers had got the message and were keeping up.
A quick trip round YouTube didn’t unearth any versions which would have met Dad’s request. I wonder why what ought to be such a rousing song is usually sung so slowly?