Glory, glory, Sally Healey

I cannot tell you how many students I placed in the loving hands of Sally Healey.
Sally, who died last Friday at 78 years old, was an adjunct English professor at Luzerne County Community College where I have been teaching the past 30 years. When assisting students with their schedules, I’d always recommend taking Sally’s class. I knew she’d teach them all they needed to know about writing, but I also knew she would give them the experience of a lifetime. In Sally’s classroom they’d feel loved.
Sally was kind and caring and understanding. Life is not always easy for a community college student who might be a single mom, or a kid without a dad, or someone who’d been labeled “dumb” since first grade and learned to believe it. Sally was sensitive to such situations. She saw each student as an individual, and took the time to do so. And because of this, her students learned and grew and left her classes feeling better about themselves than they ever dreamed possible.
If I sensed a student needed to be cared for, I knew just the person to do it.
Each spring at the college, Sally hosted a poetry reading featuring poems written by women. She always invited me to do a reading, and one year called all excited that she had come up with the “perfect” poem for me: “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” “I want to hear those words in your deep voice,” she said.
I had not known it was written by a woman, Julia Ward Howe. It was first published in 1862.
At first, I wondered about lyrics referring to God and Christ being recited at a public institution, but how could I say no to my dear friend?
Most of us are well familiar with the words, but in honor of Sally Healey, I’ll refresh your memory:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies[14] Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,[15]
While God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

Ed Ackerman