"Notre Dame Victory March"
Rally sons of Notre Dame
Cheer, cheer for Old Notre
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.
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.