Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

I wept this morning when I heard the U.S. Army Chorus sing The Battle Hymn of the Republic at the ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the White House.

It is a hymn we don't hear much anymore. Written as a poem during the war between the states, it was set to the music of "John Brown's Body is-a Mouldering in the Grave." This is a song Union troops would march to in honor of the controversial abolitionist.

It was published on the front page of The Atlantic in 1862 and its author was paid $5. The song became the anthem of the American Civil War. Yet it fell from frequent use until WWII, when Fred Waring and Pennsylvanians reintroduced it on the radio.

Growing up in Illinois, the land of Lincoln, I learned it as a boy. The son of a Republican household, I also understood that it belonged to the GOP. Until I heard Martin Luther King, Jr. quote from it often. Glory, hallelujah.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.