Illinois Loyalty

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"Illinois Loyalty" is the main school song of the University of Illinois.

First performed March 3, 1906, ″Illinois Loyalty″ is one of the oldest songs of its kind in the United States. The song was written to be played by the University Military Band, the only band at the university at that time, by Thacher Howland Guild (1879-1914), instructor in rhetoric and a member of the band′s solo cornet section.

The words of the song as listed in the 1906 program are:[1]

We′re loyal to you, Illinois,
We′re Orange and Blue, Illinois;
We′ll back you to stand
′Gainst the best in the land,
For we know you have sand, Illinois,
Rah! Rah!
So crack out that ball, Illinois,
We′re backing you all, Illinois,
Our team is our fame−protector,
On! boys, for we expect a
Victory from you, Illinois.

Che-he, Che−ha, Che−ha−ha−ha! Che−he, Che−ha, Che−ha−ha−ha!
Illinois! Illinois! Illinois!

Fling out that dear old flag of Orange and Blue
Lead on your sons and daughters, fighting for you,
Like men of old, on giants placing reliance, shouting defiance—
Oskee−wow−wow!
Amid the broad green fields that nourish our land,
For honest Labor and for Learning we stand,
And unto thee we pledge our heart and hand,
Dear Alma Mater, Illinois


The music is included in the ″Illini Fantasy″, a medley of Illinois songs and marches arranged for concert band by James Curnow in 1970 as a commission from Director of Bands Harry Begian.

The University Summer Band plays ″Illinois Loyalty″ at the close of each of its Twilight Concerts on the Quadrangle in June and July.

Due to the song's length (over a minute long), it is normally played only at the beginning, halftime, and end of a football game. However, it is not considered rousing enough for a large crowd at a game. For that reason, Oskee Wow-Wow, written in 1910, is used as the school's fight song.

The song is now used by a number of high schools in Illinois and other states:

  • Alton High School (Illinois)
  • Anna-Jonesboro Community High School (Illinois)
  • Batavia High School (Illinois)
  • Bowie High School (El Paso, Texas)
  • Bradley Central High School (Tennessee)
  • Cody High School (Wyoming)
  • Edwardsville High School (Illinois)
Eveleth-Gilbert High School (Minnesota)
  • Grandville High School (Michigan)
  • Havre High School (Montana)
  • Hollywood High School (California)
  • Lake Zurich High School (Illinois)
  • Long Beach Polytechnic High School (California)
  • Maroa-Forsyth High School (Illinois)
  • Marshfield High School (Oregon)
  • Marshfield High School (Wisconsin)
  • Medford High School(Minnesota)
  • Middlesboro High School (Kentucky)
  • Morgan High School (Utah)
  • Morton High School (Illinois)
  • Nashville Community High School (Illinois)
  • Palatine High School (Illinois)
  • Pequot Lakes High School (Minnesota)
  • Plano High School (Illinois)
  • Prairie du Chien High School (Wisconsin)
  • Rushville-Industry High School (Illinois)
  • Shenandoah High School (Iowa)
  • Waverly-Shell Rock High School (Iowa)
  • Webster City High School (Iowa)


Prominent composers who wrote marches for the University of Illinois include John Philip Sousa ("University of Illinois March" 1929), Edwin Franko Goldman ("Illinois March" 1953) and Karl L. King ("Pride of the Illini" 1928). Words were added to the Goldman march by Guy Duker and the King march by Ray Dvorak. Chicago composer and arranger Harry L Alford composed ″March of the Illini″ (1928), ″Glory of the Gridiron″ (1932) and several march paraphrases of well−known songs on commission from Director of Bands Albert Austin Harding. These include ″My Hero″ (1936) by Oscar Straus and ″The World is Waiting for the Sunrise″ (1934) by Ernest Seitz which featured the entire Marching Illini euphonium section.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sixteenth Annual Concert of the University of Illinois Military Band at the Armory Saturday March 3rd, 1906, 8:00 P.M. A.Austin Harding, Conductor; T.H. Guild, Cornet; Earl E. McCoy, Violin; Miss Irene Parsons, Accompanist. Unpublished printed concert program.
  2. ^ Smith, Norman E. (1986) March Music Notes. Lake Charles, La.: Program Notes Press. p.6

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