Maryland lawmakers vote to retire state song

Maryland’s state song is a step closer to being silenced.

The Maryland Senate voted unanimously on Friday to do away with “Maryland, My Maryland,” just a few days after the state’s house of delegates voted to do the same by a greater than 2-1 margin.

For years the University of Maryland’s chapel bells would ring the state song, leading many students from both in and out of state to first wonder why the song “O Christmas Tree” was playing months away from the Christmas season.

Then came the explanation: It was actually “Maryland, My Maryland,” the official state song.

Eventually, the chapel bells stopped ringing that tune and switched to the school’s alma mater.

In 2017 the school’s marching band stopped playing “Maryland, My Maryland” at athletic events. Even the Preakness recently stopped playing the song. Now state lawmakers in Annapolis have decided it’s time to retire the tune as well.

The growing disenchantment has nothing to do with the song’s melody though. Written in 1861, the song is a staunchly pro-Confederate tune that was supposed to serve as a rallying cry to get the state to join the secessionists in the South.

Its first lyrics celebrate an attack on Union troops marching through Baltimore, referring to them as “Northern scum.”

Numerous efforts to retire the song, some going back decades, never got as far as this one did.

It will take a signature from Gov. Larry Hogan before it’s no longer the official state song. No replacement tune has been proposed.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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