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What Is the State Song of Minnesota?

N. Swensson
N. Swensson

The official state song of Minnesota is entitled “Hail Minnesota” and was written in 1904 and 1905 by two students at the University of Minnesota, Truman E. Rickard, and Arthur E. Upson. The words and music were originally written for a play called The Apple of Discord, which was performed at the university, after which it became the school’s alma mater. In 1945, after the university alumni association agreed to release its copyright, “Hail Minnesota” was adopted as the state song by Minnesota Laws 1945 Joint Resolution Number 15. The Mahtomedi High School Chamber Singers created an official recording of the song, commissioned in 2006 by Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer. The song’s lyrics pay tribute to the natural beauty of Minnesota and celebrate the loyalty of its residents.

The writing of the state song of Minnesota was a collaborative effort between two University of Minnesota students in 1904 and 1905. Truman E. Rickard wrote the first verse as well as the music, which is described in the original sheet music as a spirited march, while Arthur E. Upson wrote the second verse. The second line of the song originally was “Hail to thee, our college dear” as a gesture of loyalty to the school. This was changed to “Hail to thee, our state so dear” when Hail Minnesota became the official state song. To facilitate this act, the University of Minnesota Alumni association agreed to release its copyright to “Hail Minnesota.”

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The overriding theme of “Hail Minnesota” is loyalty. The state is referred to as the "northern light," providing continual guidance and a solid point of reference for its inhabitants, no matter where else they may travel. The state is also compared to a “beacon, bright and clear” to which its “sons and daughters true, will proclaim thee near and far.” These lyrics in the state song of Minnesota describe the pride that inhabitants have for their “state so dear.”

The state song of Minnesota also references the natural beauty of the state by using metaphors that are reminiscent of the environment. The beginning of the second verse is a good example of this: “Like the stream that bends to sea, like the pine that seeks the blue, Minnesota still for thee, thy sons are strong and true.” Other lines like “From thy woods and waters fair, from thy prairies waving far” identify the state’s diverse landscape.

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