My daughter graduated from the University of Minnesota a couple of weeks ago with a Graduate Degree in Medical Administration. Although I’ve lived most of my life in Minnesota, she is the first in our family graduating from the venerable institution. And it was my first visit to beautiful Northrop Auditorium where the ceremony took place.
Northrop Auditorium just reeks of classic 1920’s architecture. It was built in 1929 and has seating for about 4,850 people, with a main floor and a large balcony area. It was named for Cyrus Northrop, the second president of the University of Minnesota. It is part of the beautiful Northrop Mall, with the auditorium on one end and another cool building, Coffman Memorial Union on the other. The grassy mall area is framed with old Math, Physics and Chemistry buildings which was the framework of the original campus. During the auditorium’s hey day in the 60’s, it was the home of the Minneapolis Orchestra (which turned into the Minnesota Orchestra with its move to Orchestra Hall) and hosted many performances of the Metropolitan Opera. It also was a regular stop for many national touring performers looking for a midsized venue in the Twin Cities. As an organ lover, I was thrilled to find out it is home to a famous Aeolian Skinner (an organ builder company) large pipe organ that has a whopping 6,963 pipes!
With speeches made, diplomas handed out and the ceremony winding down, we were invited to join together with the organist in singing the official State Song of Minnesota. My wife and I looked at each other wondering what was coming up. For those of you who guessed “The Minnesota ROUSER” you are incorrect.
The official song of the State of Minnesota is called “HAIL MINNESOTA!” It was written in 1904 by Truman Rickcard and was first performed on May 28th of that year. It gained in popularity in the next several years and was sung at football games whenever a touchdown was scored. The song was regularly taught to Minnesota school children in the 30’s and 40’s. It soon lost favor at athletic events due to its slow tempo, and was replaced by the Minnesota Rouser. The song has had a revival in recent years with the sesquicentennial celebration of the state in 2006. It has 2 verses:
Minnesota, Hail to Thee!
Hail to Thee, our state so dear,
Thy light shall ever be
A beacon bright and clear.
Thy sons and daughters true
Will proclaim Thee near and far.
They shall guard thy fame and adore thy name;
Thou shalt be their Northern Star!
Like the stream that bends to sea,
Like the pine that seeks the blue;
Minnesota, still for Thee
Thy sons are strong and true!
From thy woods and waters fair,
From thy prairies waving far.
At thy call they throng with a shout and song;
Hailing Thee their Northern Star!
And that is another piece of useless information brought to you by Bemidjimike. Below is a link to a YOUTUBE video that I recorded that night of the mighty 6,963 pipes in the Northrop Auditorium organ ringing out HAIL MINNESOTA!
The organ and the song…they don’t make them like that anymore.