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Notre Dame makes changes to lyrics in fight song

(WNDU)
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 10:37 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The University of Notre Dame is officially changing the chorus of its renowned fight song to include both “sons and daughters” as it observes the 50th anniversary of the decision by then-President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., to admit undergraduate women to the university.

The fight song was first performed on Campus on December 1st, 1908, but it wasn’t until 1972 that women were allowed to attend Notre Dame.

“I’m delighted and now that I think about it, I wonder why it took 50 years since women have been admitted to Notre Dame to realize that you could change the lyrics of the song and still keep the meter of that line just fine,” said Brad Gregory, a history professor at Notre Dame.

50 years after women were first admitted into the university, the Notre Dame fight song is receiving a change to include the “daughters” of the Notre Dame.

“I think it’s great, I’ve got two daughters, and my wife played volleyball at Notre Dame. So, I think it’s wonderful that they have sons and daughters in the fight song now. But I did realize that they have a lot of signage to change on campus because that lyric is everywhere,” said Irish Fan Todd Leahy.

While it may take some time to change the signs, the lyric change to include Daughters of Notre Dame was made official on Friday, June 2nd.

Students have been unofficially saying the lyrics for years, but why did it take so long for women to be allowed into Notre Dame and another 50 years to update the song to include them?

Professor Gregory added that, “That has a lot to do with the sociology of higher education in the United States, the tradition of all men’s and all women’s higher education, but I’m delighted that Father Jenkins has seen this 50th anniversary as the occasion to close the circle of what Father Hesburgh started.”

But some fans do not believe the changes went far enough.

“It’s somewhat surprising that they only changed one part of it that added the daughters, and there’s lots of the fight song that refer to, like rally sons of Notre Dame, that’s unchanged. So I’m a little confused. If you’re going to change some of it, why wouldn’t you change all of it,” said Rich Urda, Class of ‘72.

Father Sorin said after the great fire of 1879 that “I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady. But I built it too small, and she had to burn it to the ground to make that point. So, tomorrow, as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever.”

The tradition of the fight song, much like Father Sorin said, needed to be changed in order for all to prosper at Notre Dame.

Maybe the next time Notre Dame updates the fight song, they will change the beginning to Rally All for Notre Dame.

Going forward, “Notre Dame Victory March” will be sung as follows:

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame,

Wake up the echoes cheering her name,

Send a volley cheer on high.

Shake down the thunder from the sky.

What though the odds be great or small,

Old Notre Dame will win over all.

While her loyal sons & DAUGHTERS

MARCH ON to victory.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame also says it will re-imagine its Main Circle entrance to campus in the coming months to honor the profound impact women have had on the university.

Press Release from the University of Notre Dame’s Office of Media Relations:

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the decision by then-President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., to admit undergraduate women, the University of Notre Dame will re-imagine its Main Circle, the ceremonial entrance to campus, to commemorate this historic milestone, and will officially change the chorus of its renowned fight song to include both “sons and daughters,” announced University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Thursday (June 2) at the conclusion of a gala celebration of the anniversary at the Joyce Center.

The redesign of the Main Circle, to be completed in coming months, will honor the profound impact women have had on the University.

“The success Notre Dame enjoys has been shaped by the extraordinary leadership and contributions of the women who have been and are a part of the Notre Dame community — beginning with the four Holy Cross sisters who arrived in the Indiana wilderness in 1843, to those who lead, teach, learn, minister and work here today,” Father Jenkins said. “On this occasion of the anniversary of the admission of undergraduate women in 1972, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of women as students and graduates. The re-imaging of the Main Circle will be a tribute at the heart of our campus to the ways in which these women have inspired, led and enriched us.”

The 50th anniversary of the University’s decision to admit undergraduate women coincides with the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities.

“Notre Dame Victory March,” which has been rated America’s No. 1 college fight song, “will now specifically reference both the ‘sons and daughters’ of the University,” Father Jenkins said. Written by Rev. Michael Shea and his brother John in 1908, the Notre Dame Victory March includes the lines:

Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame.

Wake up the echoes cheering her name.

Send a volley cheer on high.

Shake down the thunder from the sky.

What though the odds be great or small,

Old Notre Dame will win over all.

While her loyal sons are marching

Onward to victory.

Going forward, “Notre Dame Victory March” will be sung as follows:

While her loyal sons and daughters

March on to victory.

The first public performance of the newly arranged song took place after Father Jenkins’ announcement at the gala dinner.

Father Shea, a 1905 Notre Dame alumnus, wrote the music, and John, who earned Notre Dame degrees in 1906 and 1908, wrote the words. The song was copyrighted in 1908 and a piano version with the lyrics was published that year. The song’s public debut came in the winter of 1908 when Father Shea played it on the organ of the Second Congregational Church in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It was first performed on campus on Easter Sunday of 1909 in the rotunda of the Main Building. A decade later, the Notre Dame band began to perform the fight song at athletics events.

The Shea brothers thought their version of the song was “amateurish” and hoped someone would improve on it. In 1928, band director Joseph Casasanta did just that, arranging the song to sound as it is known today.

Northern Illinois University Professor William Studwell, in his book “College Fight Songs: An Annotated Anthology,” ranked “Notre Dame Victory March” as No. 1, followed by his personal favorite, the University of Michigan’s “The Victors.”

“‘Victory March’ is more borrowed, more famous and, frankly, you just hear it more,” Studwell said. “Anybody who says that Notre Dame’s isn’t one of the top five songs is out of his gourd. That’s like saying Shakespeare didn’t know how to write.”

The tune has, in fact, been borrowed by many American high school teams, a handful of Canadian schools and the Australian Football League team Sydney Swans.

“It’s probably the most recognized and performed of collegiate songs,” Kenneth Dye, director of bands and professor of music at Notre Dame, said. “Its inspirational rhythm and tempo create an energy that encourages fans to clap along and enjoy the music.”

Father Shea was the pastor of St. Augustine Church in Ossining, New York, until his death in 1938. John Shea, a baseball monogram winner at Notre Dame, became a Massachusetts state senator and lived in Holyoke until his death in 1965.

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