American Football Database

The Aggie War Hymn is the war hymn of Texas A&M University; officially, the school does not have a fight song.


It was written by J.V. "Pinky" Wilson, one of many Aggies who fought in World War I. Wilson combined several Aggie yells then in use at the time into a song called "Good-bye to Texas University." It was sung frequently by a quartet Wilson organized after returning to Texas A&M after the war.

One night in 1920, several of the Aggie Yell Leaders heard Wilson's quartet singing the song, and asked him to let them submit it in a contest for a new fight song to be held that fall (after Wilson graduated). Wilson agreed, and the song, considerably jazzed up, was officially adopted that fall under its current title.

File:SawVarsitysHornsOff Iraq.jpg

A group of Aggie soldiers in Camp Victory, Iraq doing the "Saw Varsity's Horns Off" portion of the war hymn

The song is noted for beginning with Recall, an old bugle call, in two different keys. These are the keys of the bugles in use by the US Army during WWI, the M1894 Field Trumpet in B-flat (aka, the "Trench Bugle") and the M1896 Field Trumpet in G, which is the "bugle" still in use today. This is a nod to Texas A&M's past as a military school. Indeed, for many years, the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band's halftime show has begun with the drum major shouting "Recall! Step off on 'Hullabaloo!'"

The starting phrase of the song, "Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck!" was widely thought to originate from an Old Army Aggie yell written in 1907,[1] though other uses of the phrase have been recorded as early as 1889 at Johns Hopkins University.[2] Texas A&M University president Jack K. Williams jokingly defined it as Chickasaw Indian for "Beat the hell out of the University of Texas"[3]

The original song is actually the second verse of the hymn; in 1928, Wilson wrote another verse at the request of several Aggie students who thought the original was too focused on the Aggies' rivalry with the University of Texas. The additional lyrics comprise what is now the first verse of the song. However, the first verse has never caught on, in part because many felt it sounded too much like an Ivy League song. Thus, in practice, the second (original) verse is usually sung twice.[4]

The second verse opens with "Goodbye to texas university"; these words were chosen since Aggies refer to their principal athletic rival, the University of Texas, as "texas university", or "t.u.". Also, in practice, the phrase "sounds like hell" is inserted after the line "that is the song they sing so well"; however, the phrase is not officially part of the song.

After the second verse, Aggie fans link their arms and legs, and sway left and right to replicate the motion of a saw blade; this is called "sawing Varsity's horns off" (prior to the Texas football team adopting the Longhorn as the official mascot, the team was simply known as "Varsity"). When this happens during football games at Kyle Field, this causes the entire west upper deck, including the press box, to sway. This often unnerves sportswriters who haven't covered an Aggie game before.[5][6]

In 1997, the song was rated as the No. 1 college fight song by USA Today. It was also used by NASA Flight Director Gerry Griffin to wake up astronauts in space from 1983 to 1995.[7]

The song was also used as a wakeup call on Day 11 of space mission STS-121 for Texas A&M former student and mission specialist Mike Fossum.


  1. "Traditions Trivia". Texas A&M University Student Government Association. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
  2. The Beta Theta Pi, Volume 17. the Fraternity Cincinnati. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  3. Ferrell, Christopher. "Williams' drive, humor spearheaded growth at A&M". The Bryan-College Station Eagle. Retrieved 2008-08-05.[dead link]
  4. "School Songs". Texas A&M Singing Cadets. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  5. Drehs, Wayne (November 26, 2003). "Follow the yell Leaders!". Retrieved 2007-02-28.
  6. Wood, Ryan (2007-10-27). "A moving experience". The Lawrence Journal-World. Archived from the original on 30 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  7. Foreman, Jim (2005-03-21). "War Hymn is fine the way it is, the spirit is with the students". The Battalion. Retrieved 2007-08-09.

External links

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