"Southern man, better hang your head; don't forget what your Good Book said." -- Neil Young
Today, Father "Don Jim" Tucker gives a scathing commentary on the use of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" for Catholic worship, citing its terrorist overtones, and the misguided notion that the Northern incursion into the South was the hand of justice -- or something like that.
He also gives us a link to the lyrics. Now, I'm the first to maintain that the Civil War was not so much about slavery, as it was the rights of the sovereign States in relation to the central Federal government, and/or the cultural-political conflicts amongst said States left unresolved by the Founding Fathers. And the good Father might have a point regarding its use for Catholic worship, and not just in the South. He also raises another excellent point, about how this makes America look a little too righteous to the rest of the world (which is probably one reason for some of the bad press out there lately).
On the other hand...
If I had never heard of the American Civil War (or The War Between the States, or That Unpleasantness With The North, or whatever you wanna call it), I would never have identified such a hymn with any particular cause. For all I would have known -- just by looking at the words alone, and completely free of context -- it might have been some apocalyptic tribute alluding to the book of Daniel.
But we know it wasn't. It was inspired by a man who employed extreme tactics (terrorism, if you will) to challenge a system of involuntary servitude against a race of people. Jeb Stuart was right: "War is hell." Slavery isn't much better. Not then. Not now.
(ADDENDA: And while we're being nostalgic, this would be a good time to link to the official song of the good Father's home state, My Old Kentucky Home. The words were revised by the state legislature in 1986. As I recall, the second line originally read: "'Tis summer, the darkies are gay." Some things in this world are hard to endure, such that they can drive men to extremes. They did then. They do now.)