The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Michigan Songs

Distinctive college songs in American colleges doubtless came into being under the influence of student songs, particularly the German student songs, of the European universities. Many are obviously of German parentage, the music having been taken over bodily in some instances and the refrains vocalized in imitation of old German drinking songs. The first collection of college secret-society songs appeared in 1849, and Yale's first book of songs bears the date 1853.

The college songs of the University of Michigan rank high among those of other American colleges. Expressing the conviviality and inspiration of student life, wherever Michigan undergraduates or alumni meet, the singing of these old songs at once revives sentiments and memories which are dear to all and renews bonds of affection and loyalty.

During the 1860's efforts were made by student publications to increase the interest in singing at Michigan. In 1860 the Palladium encouraged the writing of college songs, and in the University Magazine for February, 1862, appeared "Ann Arbor Litoria," which became very popular:

Ann Arbor is a jolly home;
Sweedle inktum bum.
We love it still where e'er we roam;
Sweedle inktum bum.
The very songs we used to sing,
Sweedle inktum hi ru sa,
In memory's echoes long shall ring,
Sweedle inktum bum.
Page  1781Efforts were continued to produce "original" Michigan songs rather than imitations or adaptations of those sung in other universities or imported from abroad. The editors of the Palladium in 1864-65 offered a prize of ten dollars for the best original song. A committee, composed of President Haven and Professors Frieze and Evans, selected two of equal merit. The first, "Michigan University Song," by Arthur H. Snow ('65), sung to the air of the "Marseillaise," began:
Come, jolly boys, and lift your voices,
Ring out, ring out one hearty song…
The other, by James K. Blish ('66), entitled "Our College Home," was sung to the tune of "Upidee":
Come, throw your busy cares away
And join us in our cheerful lay, …
Blish also wrote the "Quodlibet," sung to the tune of "The Captain with His Whiskers":
'Tis September's golden month, when the opening is at hand,
That we watch the trains and registers, to see the Freshman land…
The Palladium prize in 1868-69 was given to Richard S. Dewey ('69) for his "Let Every Student Fill His Bowl." The chorus, sung to the air of "Come, Landlord, Fill Your Flowing Bowl," began:
Let every student fill his bowl
With something not too strong, sir,
And pledge our Alma Mater's health,
And join this jovial song, sir; …
An old song to Dr. Tappan and the faculty, based upon the hymn, "Where, Oh Where Are the Hebrew Children?" has come down to us in a slightly different version: "Where, Oh Where Are the Verdant Freshmen?"

Professor Frieze (see Part I: The Administration of Henry Simmons Frieze), who was an excellent musician and a devoted lover of music, rendered incalculable service to the University and to the student body in his untiring efforts to develop an interest in things musical. He introduced and directed the choir at chapel exercises and constantly endeavored to arouse enthusiasm for student songs and singing. His efforts led to the establishment of definite student musical organizations, instrumental and vocal, of choral groups, class glee clubs and finally of the University Glee Club. New impetus was thereby given to the writing and singing of Michigan songs.

The most noteworthy collection is contained in a pamphlet, issued in 1889, entitled Songs of the Yellow and Blue. The publication of this slight volume marked an important step in the history of student singing at Michigan. The book contains some twenty songs, the words by Charles Mills Gayley ('78) and Fred Newton Scott ('84), and the music for the most part by Albert A. Stanley (A.M. hon. Mich. '90, D. Mus. '30) — all three honored alumni of the University and important figures in its development. In March, 1890, a second edition appeared. Some of these songs have become forever associated with Michigan student life. The first song in the volume is "The Yellow and Blue," the words by Gayley and music arranged from Balfe's "Pirate's Chorus." "Laudes Atque Carmina," the words by Gayley and music by Stanley, and "Goddess of the Inland Seas," the words by Gayley and the music adapted from J. Peters, are among the noblest and most inspired of college songs. Other songs celebrate the fun and good spirit of student life. Worthy of mention in this category are "Birds of a Feather," the "Cigarette Song," "The Co-ed That Vanquishes Me," "Elixir Juventatis," "Romeo and Juliet," and "We, Women of the Nation." "Ann Arbor" was arranged to the tune "The Page  1782Watch on the Rhine," at that time a widely used melody in American schools and colleges. This collection, of which Michigan can certainly be proud, has been described as "easily superior to the song-book of any other college" of its day.

In student publications of the 1880's and 1890's are many excellent verses and songs which were adapted to popular tunes of the times. Some of them today are merely a memory. In the Castalian of 1892 appeared "Universitas Michiganensium" by Frank W. Howe ('93), sung to the tune "Michigan My Michigan."

The "Friar's Song," the words by Harold W. Bowman ('00), was sung for many years at the meetings of the Friars Club and deserves a place in any Michigan songbook. Another old favorite is "'Tis of Michigan We Sing, with a merry, merry ring …" Of the three outstanding contributions in the volume of 1889, the "Laudes Atque Carmina," one of the most memorable of American college songs, has lost in favor because of the almost universal unfamiliarity with the Latin language, and the "Goddess of the Inland Seas" has proven a bit too involved in its classical allusions for modern tastes. "The Yellow and Blue" has taken its place as Michigan's college song.

Student groups have always sung the popular tunes of the times, sometimes adapting them to more purely local conditions. The popularity of athletics, especially of football, since the late 1890's has given rise to many stirring songs and marches. Best known of these has been "The Victors" by Louis Elbel ('96-'99), which has become the Michigan march on all occasions and is known as such throughout the land. Scarcely less popular is the football song, "Varsity," words by J. Fred Lawton ('11), and music by Earl V. Moore ('12). These two stirring march songs have inspired many a Michigan man and woman at athletic contests and pep-meetings. Not so well known nor so popular, but worthy of mention, are the "Men of the Maize and Blue," music by A. J. Gornetzky to words by W. A. P. John; "Fight Men of Michigan," words and music by William C. Archi, Jr., ('14, '17l); "Win for Michigan," by William T. Whedon ('81); and "Men of Yost," by M. B. Cooper, also the composer of the "Michigan Drinking Song."

The Michigan Union operas of the first two decades of the twentieth century provided many of the favorite later day student songs. "Michigenda" (1908) gave the hits "When Night Falls, Dear" and "Oh, Alma Mater," by Roy D. Welch ('09), who also wrote "A Faithful Pipe to Smoke" for the opera "Culture." "Koanzaland" (1909) gave to Michigan two of its well-known favorites, "In College Days" and "Michigan, Good-bye," words by Donald A. Kahn ('07-'10) and music by Earl V. Moore. "The Crimson Chest" (1910) contained the "Bum Army" and "Take Me Back to College," and "Contrairie Mary" (1913) produced the "Friar's Song" and "Men of the Maize and Blue." One of the most widely sung of later day songs has been the "I Want To Go Back to Michigan, to Dear Ann Arbor Town …" The enthusiasm for athletics and the operatic ambitions of the Union have not succeeded, however, in giving us songs which are comparable to the "Laudes Atque Carmina" and the "Yellow and Blue" of the Songbook issued in 1889.

the yellow and blue
Sing to the colors that float in the light;
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!
Yellow the stars as they ride thro' the night, And reel in a rollicking crew;
Yellow the fields where ripens the grain
And yellow the moon on the harvest wain; Hail!
Page  1783Hail to the colors that float in the light; Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!
Blue are the billows that bow to the sun
When yellow-robed morning is due;
Blue are the curtains that ev'ning has spun, The slumbers of Phoebus to woo;
Blue are the blossoms to memory dear,
And blue is the sapphire and gleams like a tear; Hail!
Hail to the ribbons that nature has spun; Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue;
Here's to the college whose colors we wear,
Here's to the hearts that are true!
Here's to the maid of the golden hair, And eyes that are brimming with blue!
Garlands of bluebells and maize intertwine;
And hearts that are true and voices combine; Hail!
Hail to the college whose colors we wear; Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!