The Burning of the School
"The Burning of the School" (not an official title) is a parody of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", known and sung by schoolchildren throughout the United States and in some locations in the United Kingdom and Canada.
Like the Battle Hymn itself, the parody is sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body". In versions known to have appeared in print, the opening line always changes the original 'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord' to 'Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school.' Also, the first line of the refrain, 'Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!', seems always to be followed in the parody by the line 'Teacher hit me with a ruler.' (A few versions have been collected that change 'Hallelujah' to 'What's it to ya?', but most leave the first line intact.)
The rest of the lyrics vary with time and place, but generally involve the children inflicting various types of mayhem on the school and its staff.
In their 1959 book The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, the British folklorists Peter and Iona Opie recorded that 'Glory, glory hallelujah/Teacher hit me with a ruler' was frequently sung by children in Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. An eleven-year-old girl whom the Opies quoted on the subject identified the song as a parody of John Brown's Body. The Opies did not record whether the Market Rasen song had additional lyrics.
Typical lines are
- Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school
- We have tortured all the teachers - we have broken all the rules
- We ramrocked the offices and hung the principal
- March on, third grade, march on!
- Glory, glory, hallelujah
- My teacher hit me with a ruler
- I hid behind her door with a loaded .44
- And the teacher don't teach no more!
There are many variations of this song, which nearly always leave the first two lines of the verse and chorus nearly intact and change the third, with some variations to the fourth.
Anthologies containing versions of the song
- Josepha Sherman and T.K.F. Weisskopf, eds., Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood. August House, Atlanta, 1995.
- News from Lake Wobegon by Garrison Keillor, Highbridge Audio, 1991. ISBN 978-0-942110-38-8