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Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.

"Anchors Aweigh," the official song of the Navy, was first sung publicly in Philadelphia's Franklin Field at the December 1, 1906 Army-Navy football game. The rousing song helped the Midshipmen shut out the Cadets with a 10 to 0 victory. Lieutenant Charles A. Zimmermann, a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and director of the Naval Academy Band, composed the song's music, and Midshipman Alfred H. Miles supplied its words.

To a remarkable degree Charles Zimmermann's career paralleled that of the bandleader John Philip Sousa. Zimmermann's father was a member of the Navy Academy Band during the Civil War just as Sousa's father was of the Marine Band. Each of the sons, both at age 26, assumed leadership of those respective bands and both committed their lives to music and the promotion of music education.

Image: Annapolis / Bristow Adams Annapolis / Bristow Adams. Andrew B. Graham, photo-litho., c1902. Prints and Photographs Division

At the Naval Academy, Zimmermann was approached by Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles with a request from his classmates. The maestro had a tradition of composing a song for each graduating class and Miles and the class of '07 wanted a lively football marching song that would "live forever."

Navy lore has it that Zimmermann and Miles worked out the song together, sitting at the organ in the Naval Academy Chapel. In the days just prior to the Army-Navy football game, Zimmermann composed the music while Miles developed the words and the title. Miles got his title, "Anchors Aweigh," from an expression meaning the ship's hoisted anchor has just cleared the sea's bottom and, by implication, the voyage is underway.

His verses read:

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 the Grey and Gold and hoist the Navy, hoist the Navy Blue

A third stanza for "Anchors Aweigh" was written by Midshipman Royal Lovell. And in the 1920s the lyrics were revised by George D. Lottman. It is Lottman's final verse that is particularly well known.

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.

John Philip Sousa and the Navy Band

Charles Zimmermann died just before the U.S. entered WWI but his counterpart, John Philip Sousa, enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was paid one dollar per month to organize the young musicians recruited into the service. He molded the Great Lakes Navy Band into an accomplished musical organization and became the first Navy musician to hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Midshipman Miles continued with his Navy career and reached the rank of Captain.

Learn More About It
Related Web Sites
Print Bibliography
  1. Clary, Jack. American classic: Army vs. Navy, the first 100 games. Syracuse, New York: Signature Publications, 2000. Call number: GV957 .A7 C54 2000.
  2. Drew, Anne Marie, ed. Letters from Annapolis: midshipmen write home, 1848-1969. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1998. Call number: V415 .M1 A4 1998.
  3. Dunn, Lucius C. [papers of Lucius C. Dunn, 16 containers of material]. Call number: MM 92081342.
  4. Edsall, Margaret Horton. A place called The Yard: guide to the United States Naval Academy. Annapolis, Maryland: D. W. Edsall, 1986. Call number: V415 .L1 E33 1986.
  5. Howarth, Stephen. To shining sea: a history of the United States Navy, 1775-1991. New York: Random House, 1991. Call number: VA55 .H69 1991.

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  • Anchors Aweigh

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  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2002.


  • -  Popular Songs of the Day
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  • -  Songs Collections


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Anchors Aweigh. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 2002. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

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