Illinois Loyalty

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Illinois Loyalty
The Illinois Loyalty Song.jpg
The title page of the original publication of "The Illinois Loyalty Song."

Alma mater of the University of Illinois
Also known asThe Illinois Loyalty Song
We're Loyal to You, Illinois
LyricsThacher Howland Guild, 1904–06
MusicThacher Howland Guild, 1904–06

"Illinois Loyalty", also known as "We're Loyal to You, Illinois" or just "Loyalty," is a song associated with the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. It (along with Hail to the Orange) is the school's alma mater. It is also used (although not as often as Oskee Wow-Wow) as the school's fight song.


Thacher Howland Guild came to the University of Illinois from Brown University in September 1904[1] as an instructor of rhetoric. With him he brought an unfinished song which he intended to be used at a college. Guild spent his next year at the university working on the first part of what would become "The Illinois Loyalty Song" and also joined the Marching Illini in the cornet section, where he met Albert Austin Harding, a student recently promoted to director of bands. In the early months of 1906, Guild added the cheering interlude and second part of the song. Harding arranged Guild's song for the Marching Illini just in time for its anniversary concert on March 3, 1906.[2] It was first published in 1907 by the U. of I. Supply Store under the name "The Illinois Loyalty Song."[3] Since then, the song has been used nearly universally as a song to evoke school spirit and represent the University of Illinois.

One of the driving forces of purchasing a chime for the university was the desire to hear "Illinois Loyalty" ring out on the instrument. After funding for a thirteen-bell chime had been secured in the middle of 1920, Dean Thomas Arkle Clark asked the purchasing committee if it could play the melody of "Illinois Loyalty." As it turned out, this would require an additional two bells, and he blocked the purchase until an additional $2,500 was raised. In short, the Altgeld Chimes were configured specifically to play the melody of "Illinois Loyalty."[4]

In the early 1930s, the status of "Illinois Loyalty" as a school song became a point of controversy. Students debated whether fans in the football stadium should stand up during performances of "Hail to the Orange." Others argued that students should only stand when "Illinois Loyalty" is played, which they claimed is the official alma mater song.[5] These arguments continued with no conclusion until November 1958, when the Men's Independent Association and the Interfraternity Council urged university president David Dodds Henry to replace "Illinois Loyalty" with "Hail to the Orange" as the official alma mater song. It was discovered from this letter that "Illinois Loyalty" was never officially recognized by the university, but rather "For Good Old Illinois" by Vernon Thompson Stevens was recognized in 1916.[6] President Henry believed that legislation of the issue could only occur when all interested groups have engaged in widespread discussion and come to an agreement. In February 1959, he asked the Alumni Board of the Alumni Association and the university's Student Senate to begin the discussion.[7] By March, President Henry announced that the university would not be making any decisions regarding official school songs. "Illinois Loyalty" and "Hail to the Orange" would remain in competition with "For Good Old Illinois" for the title of "official alma mater song."[8]


The words of the song as listed in the 1906 program are shown below. The original publication includes optional replacements for sections of the lyrics, such as replacing "Victory" with "Touchdown," or "crack out that ball" with "smash that blockade," however, they are not shown here.[9]

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 Marching Illini plays "Illinois Loyalty" at the beginning, middle, and end of football games, as well as other games the band attends.

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.

The song is frequently performed during chime concerts on the Altgeld Chimes.

Other Uses[edit]

"Illinois Loyalty" is used as the school song of several schools within Illinois as well as in several other (mostly Midwestern) states.

High Schools Using "Illinois Loyalty"
School Municipality
Alton High School Alton, Illinois
Anaconda High School Anaconda, Montana
Anna-Jonesboro Community High School Anna, Illinois
Atlantic High School Atlantic, Iowa
Batavia High School Batavia, Illinois
Bloomfield High School Bloomfield, Indiana
Bosse High School Evansville, Indiana
Booker T. Washington High School (Shreveport, Louisiana) Shreveport, Louisiana
Bowie High School El Paso, Texas
Bradley Central High School Cleveland, Tennessee
Brownsburg High School Brownsburg, Indiana
Clinton High School Clinton, Iowa
Clarion-Goldfield-Dows High School Clarion, Iowa
Cody High School Cody, Wyoming
Durant High School Durant, Oklahoma
Edwardsville High School Edwardsville, Illinois
Elmore City-Pernell High School Elmore City, Oklahoma
Eveleth-Gilbert High School Eveleth, Minnesota
Grandville High School Grandville, Michigan
Greene County High School Jefferson, Iowa
Harbor Beach High School Harbor Beach, Michigan
Havre High School Havre, Montana
Herrin High School Herrin, Illinois
Hollywood High School Los Angeles, California
Lake Zurich High School Lake Zurich, Illinois
Lebanon High School Lebanon, Missouri
Long Beach Polytechnic High School Long Beach, California
Maroa-Forsyth High School Maroa, Illinois
Marshfield High School Marshfield, Oregon
Marshfield High School Marshfield, Wisconsin
Medford High School (Minnesota) Medford, Minnesota
Mesa High School Mesa, Arizona
Middlesboro High School Middlesboro, Kentucky
Mooresville High School Mooresville, Indiana
Morgan High School Morgan, Utah
Morton High School Morton, Illinois
Muscatine High School Muscatine, Iowa
Nashville Community High School Nashville, Illinois
Oak Park and River Forest High School Oak Park, Illinois
Orangeville High School Orangeville, Illinois
Palatine High School Palatine, Illinois
Pequot Lakes High School Pequot Lakes, Minnesota
Pike High School Indianapolis, Indiana
Plano High School Plano, Illinois
Prairie du Chien High School Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
Rushville-Industry High School Rushville, Illinois
Shenandoah High School Shenandoah, Iowa
Waverly-Shell Rock High School Waverly, Iowa
Webster City High School Webster City, Iowa
Whitefish High School Whitefish, Montana

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Changes in the Faculty". Daily Illini. September 14, 1904. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  2. ^ Folger, William (December 11, 1935). "Harding Says Student, Alumni Opinions Should Be Foremost In Alma Mater Song Change". Daily Illini. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Illinois Loyalty Song". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Anne Lukeman (Producer), Jake Maples (Editor), Nick Yi (Drone footage) (August 2, 2017). The Altgeld Chimes (YouTube video). University of Illinois Office of Public Affairs. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  5. ^ "Students Stand for 'Loyalty,' Not 'Hail'". Daily Illini. November 15, 1952. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  6. ^ "UI Singing Wrong Song". Daily Illini. January 17, 1959. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  7. ^ "Students, Alumni To Discuss Controversial 'Illinois Loyalty'". Daily Illini. February 4, 1959. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  8. ^ "If You're Tired, Stand". Daily Illini. May 9, 1959. Retrieved July 13, 2020.
  9. ^ 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.
  • Herman, Richard (Summer 2006). "From Chancellor Richard Herman". UIF Newsletter, Issue 47. University of Illinois Foundation. p. 2. Statement of historical continuity in usage of the song by the University

External links[edit]