One: The Standards
Page Two: The Lost Fight Songs
Page Three: From the Vault
enjoyed rousing team
songs before "Go U," but Theodore Van Etten's tune became a school
almost immediately. Van Etten was inspired by the 1912 NU-Indiana
game, in part by the Purple's 20-7 win, and in part by Indiana's fight
song. He wrote the song (originally called "Go Northwestern Go!")
and lyrics on the way home from Bloomington, and the song debuted
23, 1912, at old Northwestern Field, during the NU-Illinois season
finale. As NUMB played the new fight song, the crowd went wild,
leading to the band playing the song again, a celebratory encore of the
new school tune.
There are several versions of the lyrics to "Go U Northwestern."
The most commonly accepted are as follows:
GO U NORTHWESTERN
Go U Northwestern!
Break right through that line.
With our colors flying,
We will cheer you all the time,
U Rah! Rah!
Go! U Northwestern!
Fight for victory,
Spread far the fame of our fair name,
Go! Northwestern win that game.
Hit 'em hard!
Hit 'em low!
Go! Northwestern Go!
On Song" (Rise Northwestern)
Donald Robertson wrote the words
and music to what he titled, "The Northwestern Push On Song" in early
but he did not want to compete with the sudden success of the new "Go U
Northwestern." "Push On" was not performed until Homecoming 1915, and was an
immediate hit. Unlike "Go U," which has remained constantly
"Rise Northwestern" has had cyclical success at NU, overtaking "Go U"
in the 1920's
as the premier NU fight song, and waning in popularity until a
in the 1950's.
The original lyrics to "Rise Northwestern" are:
PUSH ON SONG
Push on Northwestern and go in to win,
Push on Northwestern and fight,
May word and deed keep you in the lead,
Push on for victory with all your might.
Loyal and true we are always with you,
Push when the game goes hard,
From east or west we know you're the best,
Push on for victory.
We'll always stand by you,
We will ever cheer and sing for you to
Our hearts will ever yearn
For the Purple banner waving high
Hit 'em hard and low,
Go Northwestern Go!
U Rah! Rah! U Rah! Rah!
U Northwestern Rah.
By the 1980s, however, only the chorus was
still commonly sung: the "Push on" verses and the yell are usually not
sung. Also by the '80s students and fans began yelling "Go
'Cats!" at the end of the chorus repeat.
Mater (University Hymn)
The music and lyrics to the Alma Mater have had
a strange evolution. Peter Lutkin, NU's legendary
Musical Director at the turn of the 20th Century, based the piece on Johannes
Brahms' Variations on the St. Anthony Chorale by Francis
Haydn. Haydn himself had based his song on an Austrian
pilgrim's hymn. Lutkin rearranged the piece
in 1907 and re-christened it "Quæcumque Sunt Vera," also known as the
The phrase "Quæcumque Sunt Vera" comes from Phillipians 4:8 and
"Whatsoever things are true." In 1856, shortly after
Northwestern's founding, the school began using an official seal that
depicted an open book, rays of light, and the words, "Northwestern
University, Evanston, Illinois." In the 1880s Daniel Bonbright
redesigned the seal, adding the Latin motto (as well as the inscription
on the book in the seal. The inscription is the Greek version of
John 1:14: "The Word...full of grace and truth."). After Lutkin arranged the music for "Quæcumque
Sunt Vera" J. Scott Clark
took the university's motto and wrote Latin lyrics around it.
Sunt Vera" remained an NU staple for four decades before falling into
In the 1950s John Paynter, NU's legendary Band Director, re-arranged
the tune, bringing it closer to the Brahms version, and Thomas
wrote brand new lyrics to the music (this time in English).
The song became known as "University Hymn," better known simply as the
Here are Clark's original-- and now quite obscure-- Latin lyrics, with
the even-more obscure second verse:
QUÆCUMQUE SUNT VERA
Proba, justa, mera,
Omnia haec dona,
Præbes nobis bona,
Alma Mater cara,
Celsa in honore
Mater O benigna,
Præstans tu et digna;
Fida dux virtutis;
Peni tus amamus
Deo te mandamus.
And here are the new-- much more familiar-- lyrics written by Tyra:
We will sing thy praise
All thy sons and
Pledge thee victory and
Alma Mater Praise be
May thy name forever
Hail to purple
Hail to white
Hail to thee
the MIDI Files
Audio files of Northwestern's fight songs
various forms on the Web, most notably as .WAV files (.WAV files can be
found on Northwestern's official site, nusports.com). The .WAV
available are straight recordings of the marching band.
until now there haven't been any MIDI versions available. MIDI
are simple audio files that take up very little space.
The MIDI files listed above were arranged
and coded by me, based on some of the earliest sheet music copies
Because of this, there are some clear differences between the MIDI
and the modern versions we are used to hearing.
"Go U Northwestern," for instance, has
changed over the years subtly. You might hear differences during
the lyrics "break right through that line" and "fight for
The original arrangements above have additional differences-- I'm not a
MIDI expert, and had to make some changes to make the tune more "MIDI
"Push On" has syncopation that is quite
different from how it is performed today, and the melody has evolved
The Alma Mater shows the most striking
differences. The following MIDI is closer to the modern,
version: Click here for
the more common arrangement (this file was not created by me;
I took it from the Web, and-- unfortunately-- its arranger and coder is
unknown). The versions I arranged and included above are from
original transcription. The tune is significantly stripped down
simple, missing the dramatic pauses and swelling sound that are now