5 things you should know about 'Anchors Aweigh'

Today’s U.S. Navy can trace its origins to the Continental Navy of the Revolutionary War. It boasts the largest, most capable fleet in history, proudly serving its mission of “…winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas.” America’s sailors are the finest in the world, and their rousing song — born in victory — suits them well.

Also read: The complete hater’s guide to the US Navy

Even if you can’t sing along, you’ve probably heard the familiar tune, but here are five things you might not know about “Anchors Aweigh:”

1. It was written at the U.S. Naval Academy

Bandmaster Lt. Charles A. Zimmerman served as director of the U.S. Naval Academy Band from 1887 until his death in 1916, and he wrote a march for each graduating class. But it was “Anchors Aweigh” would be the one ultimately adopted by the U.S. Navy as its official song.

blue-angels

The Blue Angels, perform a flyover during a graduation and commissioning ceremony for the Naval Academy Class of 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Anthony Koch)

2. It helped shut out the Army

By 1906, Navy had not beaten Army on the football field since 1900. Midshipman First Class Alfred Hart Miles approached Zimmerman with a request for a new march — one that would lift spirits and “live forever.” According to legend, Miles and Zimmerman got to work at the Academy’s chapel organ. Later that month, the band and brigade performed the song and the Navy swept the Army in a 10-0 victory.

3. It’s chock full of naval jargon, starting with the title

An anchor is “aweigh” when it is hoisted from the bottom, freeing the vessel. This event is duly noted in the ship’s log.

Constitution, Navy, Ship,

A double rainbow forms over USS Constitution after an evening thunderstorm. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Peter D. Melkus)

4. It evolved over time

It wasn’t until 1997 that the lyrics were finally revised (by the 8th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, John Hagan) to be a little less college football and a little more domination of the high seas.

5. It boasts ancient lore — like 2300 BC ancient

The revised lyrics include some naval lore, such as a reference to Davy Jones, whose locker on the ocean floor is home to drowned sailors and shipwrecks, and the “seven seas,” an ancient phrase for all the world’s oceans.

U.S. Navy | YouTube

Here are the proud lyrics (both original and revised):

Original Lyrics

[Verse 1]
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.

[Verse 2]
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 and Grey and Gold and hoist the Navy, hoist the Navy Blue

[Verse 3]
Blue of the Seven Seas; Gold of God’s great sun
Let these our colors be Till all of time be done-n-n-ne,
By Severn shore we learn Navy’s stern call:
Faith, courage, service true With honor over, honor over all.

Revised Lyrics
(It is verse 2 that is most widely sung)

[Verse 1]
Stand Navy out to sea,
Fight our battle cry;
We’ll never change our course,
So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT,
Anchors Aweigh.
Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!

[Verse 2]
Anchors Aweigh, my boys,
Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to foreign shores,
We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night ashore,
Drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more.
Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

[Verse 3]
Blue of the mighty deep:
Gold of God’s great sun.
Let these our colors be
Till all of time be done, done, done, done.
On seven seas we learn
Navy’s stern call:
Faith, courage, service true,
With honor, over honor, over all.