Root Beer Lover
back to top
|It's been theorized that the tune which became John Brown's Body and then Battle Hymn of the Republic originated in Sweden before 1700 as a drinking song. It then reached England where it became the Nancy Dawson Country Dance, which was named for a popular dancer during George II reign. Charles Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodist Church, had a bunch of soldiers break up one of his meetings by singing the Nancy Dawson Country Dance which lead to his supposedly coming up with a new verse to shut the soldiers up. However James Fuld has brought up questions as to Wesley's connection to the song as none of his hymns have the same tune (and it should be noted that the Nancy Dawson Country Dance went more the tune of Here we go round the Mulberry Bush than what becaem Battle Hymn of the Republic). Fuld also points out that Broder Viljen I Ga Med Oss, which is sung to the tune in Sweden, is first recorded as appearing in 1875.
It could possible that there was an older traditional drinking song from Sweden that spawned the tune. If so, it wouldn't be the first time a patriotic song in this country could trace it's tune back to a drinking song from another country. The Anacreontic Song, or To Anacreon in Heaven as it may be better known, has been considered a drinking song. We know the tune so well, after all Defence of Fort McHenry was set to it the same year it was released as a poem and in '31 it became the offical National Anthem. Yep, the Star Spangled Banner was set to the tune of an English drinking song from the 18th century.