“Illinois” Is The State Song Of Illinois with music by Archibald Johnston and lyrics by Charles H. Chamberlain, “Illinois” served as the state’s unofficial song for many years before the 54th General Assembly passed a bill making it official Illinois State Song in 1925. The bill was introduced by state Senator Florence Fifer Bohrer, the first woman to serve as an Illinois Senator.
The state song of Illinois, by carrying the state’s name as its simple, one-word title, follows a trend adopted by numerous other states in the U.S. The “Illinois” Song was written during the successful campaign to have the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (world’s fair) located in Chicago.
Walter Howe Jones (died 1933), Director of the University of Illinois School of Music 1895-1901, set the State Song Of Illinois lyrics to his own music for male voices in 1901. His version was published in several campus songbooks but was not widely used. In addition to the original four verses of the Illinois State Song lyrics, two more were written in 1966 by folk singer Win Stracke (1908-1991) for the 1968 Illinois Sesquicentennial. A marching band arrangement by John Warrington (1911-1978) was issued at the same time.
By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois,
O’er thy prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois,
Comes an echo on the breeze.
Rustling through the leafy trees,
and its mellow tones are these, Illinois, Illinois,
And its mellow tones are these, Illinois.
From a wilderness of prairies, Illinois, Illinois,
Straight thy way and never varies, Illinois, Illinois,
Till upon the inland sea,
Stands thy great commercial tree,
turning all the world to thee, Illinois, Illinois,
Turning all the world to thee, Illinois.
When you heard your country calling, Illinois, Illinois,
Where the shot and shell were falling, Illinois, Illinois,
When the Southern host withdrew,
Pitting Gray against the Blue,
There were none braver than you, Illinois, Illinois,
There were none braver than you, Illinois.
Not without thy wondrous story, Illinois, Illinois,
Can be writ the nation’s glory, Illinois, Illinois,
On the record of thy years,
Abraham Lincoln’s name appears,
Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois, Illinois,
Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois.