Be jubilant, my feet!
I’m about to do something horrible. I apologise. Really.
Do you know The Battle Hymn of the Republic? Yes, I’m sure you do. You maybe know it as ‘Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!’ though. Got it?
There are many versions of this hymn – one dating from the days of corporal punishment in schools goes:
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!
Teacher hit me with the ruler
The ruler snapped in half
And we all began to laugh
And I won’t go to school no more.
Have you got the song stuck in your head, yet? Give it a while, you will have. I’ve had it stuck in mine ever since my brother posted the word for this week’s One Word At A Time (OWAAT) blog carnival. Thanks, Pete. And sorry everyone else, for doing the same to you!
What does the word ‘jubilant’ have to do with The Battle Hymn of the Republic, though? Well. Once upon a time I read a children’s book. I can’t remember which book, but it involved a little girl with a younger sister. In said book, the younger sister was singing The Battle Hymn, but could only remember one line, so sang it over and over again as they skipped down the road. She also had a lisp. So now that tune, and the word jubilant, always put this line in my head, ad nauseum:
Oh be thwift my thoul to anther Him, be jubilant my feet.
Because she didn’t know any other words, I don’t know any other words either, at least to that verse. If you want to find them, they’re freely accessible online, just Google it (other search engines are available)(sorry, British in-joke!).
The point, though (yes, there is one!), is that ‘jubilant’ is not a word you hear very often.
I feel pretty jubilant today, because yesterday I finished Jeff Goins’ 15-day writing challenge. Through following his daily blog posts packed with exhortations and exercises I have not only regained some of my creative spark, but have met a whole new community of online writing friends who have been massively encouraging of my work, and who have written some great stuff themselves.
I’m pretty sure that’s not why Peter chose the word, though. I suspect it had more to do with The Queen’s recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations. There was indeed great jubilation around the nation as we celebrated the way Her Majesty has served her country, and us its citizens, so well for 60 years – and shows no sign of slowing down.
It’s a funny word, really. Although it really only means joyful (it comes from the Latin for ‘shout or whoop’ according to Dictionary.com), to me it has always had a sense of joyous relief, denoting some sort of achievement or perhaps release.
In the verse of the Battle Hymn, though, it speaks of the joy of responding to God’s call on your life. God is pictured ‘sifting out the hearts of men before his judgement seat’, and the singer urges his soul to respond quickly, and to ‘march on’ joyfully in the cause to which it has been called.
I was jubilant to finish the writing challenge yesterday, but perhaps I should also describe myself as ‘jubilant’ when I’m in the process of doing the thing I know I have been called to. For me that’s writing. I love it, but I all too often find excuses to drag my heels and procrastinate doing it. The writing challenge helped me snap out of that, maybe this song will help me stick to it!
Be swift my soul to answer Him, be jubilant my feet indeed.
This post forms part of the One Word at a Time blog carnival hosted by peterpollock.com. Why not head over there and see how others have interpreted the word ‘Jubilant’?