Was on the phone with my oldest. He had a question about the Navy’s fight song, as he was following the exploits of the marauding midshipmen. They are 3-0 on the season so far, and there is talk about them being ranked in the top 25 college teams this year! So I found the following information. (Might make a good “Rest of the Story” from Paul Harvey.)
The word “weigh” in this sense comes from the archaic word meaning to heave, hoist or raise. “Aweigh” means that that action has been completed. The anchor is aweigh when it is pulled from the bottom. This event is duly noted in the ship’s log.
Lieut. Charles A. Zimmermann, USN, a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, had been selected as the bandmaster of the Naval Academy Band in 1887 at the age of 26. His father, Charles Z. Zimmermann, had played in the band during the Civil War years. Early in his career, Lieut. Zimmermann started the practice of composing a march for each graduating class. By 1892, “Zimmy”, as he was affectionately known by the midshipmen, became so popular that he was presented with a gold medal by that year’s class. More gold medals followed as Zimmermann wrote a march for each succeeding class
In 1906, Lieut. Zimmerman was approached by Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles with a request for a new march. As a member of the Class of 1907, Miles and his classmates “were eager to have a piece of music that would be inspiring, one with a swing to it so it could be used as a football marching song, and one that would live forever.”
Supposedly, with the two men seated at the Naval Academy Chapel organ, Zimmermann composed the tune and Miles set the title and wrote to two first stanzas in November 1906. This march was played by the band and sung by the brigade at the 1906 Army-Navy football game later that month, and for the first time in several seasons, Navy won. This march, Anchors Aweigh, was subsequently dedicated to the Academy Class of 1907 and adopted as the official song of the U.S. Navy. The concluding stanza was written by Midshipman Royal Lovell, Class of 1926.
Stand Navy down the field, sails set to the sky.
We’ll never change our course, so Army you steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll up the score, Navy, Anchors Aweigh.
Sail Navy down the field and sink the Army, sink the Army Grey.
Get underway, Navy, Decks cleared for the fray,
We’ll hoist true Navy Blue So Army down your Grey-y-y-y.
Full speed ahead, Navy; Army heave to,
Furl Black and Grey and Gold and hoist the Navy, hoist the Navy Blue
Blue of the Seven Seas; Gold of God’s great sun
Let these our colors be Till all of time be done-n-n-ne,
By Severn shore we learn Navy’s stern call:
Faith, courage, service true With honor over, honor over all.
by George D. Lottman
It is Verse 2 that is most widely sung.
Stand, Navy, out to sea, Fight our battle cry;
We’ll never change our course, So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT, Anchors Aweigh. Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.
In the 1916 Lucky Bag, the Academy yearbook, the class prepared a surprise for Lieut. Zimmermann. On page one was an impressive photo of the bandmaster in his full dress uniform, and on the next, a moving tribute to his devotion to the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, Lieut. Zimmermann did not live to enjoy this tribute. He became ill and died suddenly on Sunday morning, Jan. 16, 1916, of a brain hemorrhage. He was 54 years old. He was given a full military funeral, with midshipmen serving as pallbearers, and classes were suspended so the entire regiment could attend when he was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery on Jan. 19, 1916. Later, his body was moved to the Naval Academy cemetery where a granite monument, a gift from the classes of 1916 and 1917 was erected, as says the inscription on the base, “by his Midshipmen Friends.”
Alfred H. Miles, the lyricist, continued his Navy career and retired as a Captain.
Source: Chief of Naval Information
And though a little early ….”Go Navy!! Beat Army!!”