By Will Brown
This year, Millsaps established a pep band that consists of 18 students to play at home football games, as well some home basketball games. One of the songs that the band plays is a song that most current Millsaps students are likely unfamiliar with, but one that is very important to the history and tradition of Millsaps College: the Millsaps “Fight Song.”
Interim Director of Choral Activities Jonathan Trotter worked to uncover the fight song when he arrived at Millsaps. Trotter wanted to learn more about the traditions and customs of Millsaps, and thought that finding the fight song would improve the gameday experience.
“It seemed to me like we don’t have many traditions,” Trotter said. “I was wondering why we didn’t have a fight song.”
Trotter previously studied and worked at the University of Mississippi and South Carolina University, where the choir was always involved in the gameday experience. “I thought it would a good idea to get the choir involved at Millsaps athletics because it is the most visible thing on campus,” Trotter said.
The fight song that is being played at Millsaps football this year games dates back to the 1940s, but whether or not it is the original fight song of Millsaps is unclear. No one is quite sure why the song went away for such a long time after its use during the 1940s, and multiple versions of a fight song from the 1940s have been uncovered. Trotter found this version of the fight song after being put in contact with Dr. T.W. Lewis, a 1953 Millsaps graduate and a member of the religious studies faculty for a number of years. “Dr. Lewis came to my office and sang the melody of the fight song he learned when he was a freshman in 1949,” Trotter said. “I wrote down the melody and Dr. Jason Rosenberg harmonized it. We then had the fight song for the choir to sing.”
According to the Millsaps archives website, the fight song first was used on October 29, 1948 in a football game against Mississippi College. Millsaps would win that game 7-0. However, the fight song that is listed in the archives is not the same song that Lewis remembers learning when he was a student at Millsaps. “When I came as a freshman in ’49, the one below is the one we had to memorize” Lewis said in an email sent to Trotter from over the summer. It appeared in the student handbook for years. I can whistle it for them if they want.” The song that Lewis is referring to is a different version from the fight song listed in the Millsaps archives.
The version remembered by Lewis and restored by Trotter made its return at last year’s Homecoming Concert, and the pep band began playing it at home football games this fall. While there is much debate of whether this is the original fight song of Millsaps College, Trotter believes that the lyrics are unique to the school. The third verse of the song reads “And as we fight/For Purple and for White/And as we give our all!” and Trotter believes that this verse is something every student at Millsaps can relate to.
“I like that its unique to Millsaps and that the tune has the ability to raise our spirits and hype us up,” Trotter said. “The line ‘as we give our all’ is indicative of what we are all doing at Millsaps whether we are involved in athletics or not.”
A link to the recovered version of the fight song is here Fight Song Info