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Bob Lind, Published April 27 2014

Neighbors: Recalling another North Dakota song

Neighbors’ story about a Williston, N.D., musician who once wrote a song honoring North Dakota brought an email from Debra Beutler, Becker, Minn., with a reminder of another North Dakota song.

Debra writes that when she was attending school in Sheldon, N.D., her fifth-grade teacher, Adeline Buss, and her sixth-grade teacher, Alma Erickson, made their students learn the North Dakota Hymn, which now is the official state song.

Debra has learned that in 1926, Minnie Nielson, the state superintendent of public instruction, asked poet James Foley, Bismarck, to write lyrics for a North Dakota song. Foley did just that, creating a poem to be sung to the tune of “The Austrian Hymn.”

With an arrangement of the piece by C.S. Putnam, conductor of the North Dakota Agricultural College band, Fargo, the hymn was first performed for the public in 1927 in the Bismarck City Auditorium.

The hymn opens with this verse:

North Dakota, North Dakota, with thy prairies wide and free,

All thy sons and daughters love thee, fairest state from sea to sea;

North Dakota, North Dakota, here we pledge ourselves to thee.

The final verse is:

God of freedom, all victorious, give us souls serene and strong

Strength to make the future glorious, keep the echo of our song;

North Dakota, North Dakota, in our hearts forever long.

Deb once heard Lawrence Welk’s group sing this song.

“I was thinking how sad it is that (North Dakota) elementary kids today don’t learn the song and take some North Dakota pride with them wherever they go,” she says.

After all these years, Deb says “I can still sing the first verse of the song to the amazement (chagrin?) of my adult sons.

“I would be available for parties,” she concludes, “but so far, no one has asked …”

Maybe you should keep your phone handy, Deb, because you never know …

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors,

The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107 or email blind@forumcomm.com