"The Victors" is the
fight songof the University of Michigan(UM). It was composed by UM student Louis Elbelin 1898 following the last-minute football victory over the University of Chicagothat clinched a league championship. [cite web | author=Shaker, Clay | date=September 21, 1998 | url=http://www.pub.umich.edu/daily/1998/sep/09-21-98/news/news10.html | title="The Victors!" turns 100 years old | publisher=The Michigan Daily | accessdate=2007-03-06] John Philip Sousais quoted as saying it is "the greatest college fight song ever written." [cite book|author=Michael Hondorp, Fabrikant Alexis|title=University of Michigan College Prowler Off the Record |date=January 1, 2005 |publisher=College Prowler, Inc|id=ISBN 1-59658-163-8 |pages=118]
An abbreviated version of the fight song, based on the final refrain, is played after the football team either scores or makes a big defensive play, such as an
interception. Its full lyrics span several verses that run over two minutes long. The melody of the fight song is very similar to the trio section from "The Spirit of Liberty March". This song is often referred to as "Hail to the Victors," which is not correct.
The phrase "champions of the West" is often misunderstood, and is in reality a reference to Michigan's membership in the Western Conference, later renamed the Big Ten. Accordingly, after Michigan temporarily withdrew from the Western Conference in 1907, a new Michigan fight song "Varsity" was written in 1911 because the line "champions of the West" was no longer appropriate. [ [http://mmb.music.umich.edu/history/fischer.asp Michigan Marching Band History - The Eugene Fischer Years 1906-1914] ] Both songs were highly popular, and with Michigan's reentry to the Western Conference in 1917, followed by an undefeated football season in 1918 [ [http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1918fbt.htm Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan Athletics History 1918 Football Team] ] , the lyrics to The Victors became apt once again.
The lyrics are unusual for a fight song, in that the typical fight song exhorts its team to play well and win, whereas "The Victors" is sung in celebration of a win after the fact.
Uses and performances
The chorus of the song ("Hail! to the victors valiant," etc.) is played at all University of Michigan sports competitions, as well as many UM band events, first year student orientation and welcoming events, and graduation commencement ceremonies. When the song is played at any event, most fans stand and clap in rhythm until the chorus. During the chorus, fans clap and sing along and thrust their fists in the air at each repetition of the word "Hail!" This raising of the fist during the chorus has become a well-known sight indicative of UM athletics and school spirit. Recently, fans have started to yell the phrase "Go Blue!" at the conclusion of the chorus. However, during
hockeygames, it is more common to insert "Let's Go Blue!" in between the two stanzas of the chorus (after the line "...leaders and best.") than it is to end with "Go Blue!" More recently, the hockey fans at Yost Ice Arenahave begun adopting the football cheer version and ending in "Go Blue!" and omitting the aforementioned "Let's Go Blue!" in the middle of the song.
Since UM athletics and "The Victors" are both popular, the University of Michigan has also used the words to the fight song as an advertising tool. For example, commercials for the
University of Michigan Health Systemhave featured the words to the chorus of "The Victors" over pictures of children in hospital beds and doctors performing surgery. The musical accompaniment to these commercials is a light chamber orchestra/pop rendition of the fight song.
UM alumnus Gerald R. Ford, the 38th
President of the United States, often had the Naval band play the fight song prior to state events instead of " Hail to the Chief". [cite book | title=The Press and the Ford Presidency | author=Rozell, Mark J. | date=October 15, 1992 | publisher=University of Michigan Press | id=ISBN 0-472-10350-4 | pages=38.] He also selected the song to be played during his December 2006 funeral procession at the U.S. Capitol. [Anne E. Kornblut, "Ford Arranged His Funeral to Reflect Himself and Drew in a Former Adversary," "New York Times", December 29, 2006.] The U-M Marching Band played this tune for him one final time, for his last ride from the Gerald R. Ford airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
"The Victors" is also featured in the movie
Big Fish. [cite web | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0319061/trivia | title=Trivia for Big Fish | publisher=Internet Move Database (IMDB) | year=2007 | accessdate=2007-10-19]
:Now for a cheer they are here, triumphant!:Here they come with banners flying,:In stalwart step they're nighing,:With shouts of vict'ry crying,:We hurray, hurrah, we greet you now, Hail!
:Far we their praises sing:For the glory and fame they've bro't us:Loud let the bells them ring:For here they come with banners flying:For we their praises tell:For the glory and fame they've bro't us:Loud let the bells them ring:For here they come with banners flying:Here they come, Hurrah!
(chorus):Hail! to the victors valiant :Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes :Hail! Hail! to Michigan :The leaders and best!
:Hail! to the victors valiant :Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes :Hail! Hail! to Michigan, :The champions of the West!
(bridge):We cheer them again :We cheer and cheer again :For Michigan, we cheer for Michigan:We cheer with might and main :We cheer, cheer, cheer :With might and main we cheer!(return to chorus)
Now for a cheer they are here, triumphant!Here they come with banners flying,In stalwart step they're nighing,With shouts of vict'ry crying,We hurrah, hurrah, we greet you now,Hail!
Far we their praises singFor the glory and fame they've bro't usLoud let the bells them ringFor here they come with banners flyingFar we their praises tellFor the glory and fame they've bro't usLoud let the bells them ringFor here they come with banners flyingHere they come, Hurrah!
* [http://www.admissions.umich.edu/studentlife/victors.wav Listen to "The Victors"]
* [http://www.umich.edu/~bhl/bhl/exhibits/umosu/umsongs.htm Details on "The Victors"]
* [http://www.lib.umich.edu/music/collections/victors.pdf Sheet music for "The Victors"]
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