"Notre Dame Victory March"


Rally sons of Notre Dame
Sing her glory and sound her fame
Raise her Gold and Blue
And cheer with voices true:
Rah, rah, for Notre Dame
We will fight in every game,
Strong of heart and true to her name
We will ne'er forget her
And will cheer her ever
Loyal to Notre Dame.


Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame,
Wake up the echoes cheering her name,
Send a volley cheer on high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky!
What though the odds be great or small,
Old Notre Dame will win over all,
While her loyal sons are marching
Onward to victory!


Listen to "Notre Dame Victory March"




Without a doubt the most recognizable collegiate fight song in the nation, the "Notre Dame Victory March" was written just past the turn of the century by two brothers who were University of Notre Dame graduates.

Michael J. Shea, a 1905 graduate, wrote the music and his brother, John F. Shea, who earned degrees in 1906 and 1908, wrote the words. The song was copyrighted in 1908 and a piano verson, complete with lyrics, was published that year.

Michael, who became a priest in Ossining, N.Y., collaborated on the project with John, who lived in Holyoke, Mass. The song's public debut came in the winter of 1908 when Michael played it on the organ of the Second Congregational Church in Holyoke.

The "Notre Dame Victory March" later was presented by the Shea brothers to the University and it first appeared under the copyright of the University of Notre dame in 1928. The copyright was assigned to the publishing company of Edwin H. Morris and the copyright for the beginning of the song is still in effect.

The words and music which begin with the words "Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame" are in the public domain in the United States, but are protected in all territories outside of the country.

Notre Dame's fight song was first performed at Notre Dame on Easter Sunday, 1909, in the rotunda of the Administration Building. The University of Notre Dame band, under the direction of Prof. Clarence Peterson, played it as part of its athletic event 10 years later. In 1969, as college football celebrated its centennial, the "Notre Dame Victory March" was honored as the "greatest of all fight songs."

Michael Shea was the pastor of St. Augustine's Church in Ossining until his death in 1938. John Shea, a baseball monogram winner at Notre Dame, became a Massachusetts state senator and live in Holyoke until his death in 1965.

The song's composers would probably be surprised to learn what popularity it has gained since its creation nearly a century ago. They intended the song to be merely an example and hoped it would encourage students to eventually write something better. The brothers never imagined that "The Victory March" would gain such fame.


In fact, despite the popularity of the Victory March, in later years the Sheas came to regard the song as an "amateurish" effort and set out to write a better one. In the fall of 1922, Michael, who studied music in Rome after being ordained a priest and taught ecclesiastical chants at Saint Joseph's Seminary in New York, wrote to then-President Matthew Walsh, CSC, discussing band and orchestra arrangements for their new composition, called "The Fighting Team." The chorus went:


Here's to you, Fighting Team, who wear the Gold and Blue.

In victory or defeat, our hearts are all for you.

Onward to victory then, and show the world how ND men

Can Fight! Fight! Till we cross that goal line,

Touchdown for Notre Dame


Walsh wrote back promising that The Fighting Team would be played the weekend before homecoming. Michael Shea later wrote that he was shipping about a thousand copies of the sheet music and lyrics to campus for sale to students and fans. The lyrics were printed in the homecoming issue of the Scholastic. But that's the last that was heard of The Fighting Team. Apparently no one adopted it.


According to the marching band's website, the Sheas gave much of the credit for the success of the Victory March to Joseph Casasanta, band director from 1923 to 1942, who arranged the piece to sound the way we hear it today. Casasanta went on to compose the alma mater, Notre Dame, Our Mother, and several famous ND football songs including Hike, Notre Dame.


As for the Shea brothers' "better" fight song, it may be forgotten, but it hasn't been lost. Copies of the lyrics and sheet music remain in the University Archives.