Oregon Focus: State Symbols: Song
About "Oregon, My Oregon"
The song, "Oregon, My Oregon," was adopted as the official Oregon state song in 1927. The music was written by Henry B. Murtagh and the words by John A. Buchanan.
"Land of the Empire Builders, Land of the Golden West;
Conquered and held by free men, Fairest and the best.
On-ward and upward ever, Forward and on, and on;
Hail to thee, Land of the Heroes, My Oregon.
Land of the rose and sunshine, Land of the summer's breeze;
Laden with health and vigor, Fresh from the western seas.
Blest by the blood of martyrs, Land of the setting sun;
Hail to thee, Land of Promise, My Oregon."
Buchanan was an Astoria city judge and an amateur poet. He and Henry Murtagh entered their composition in a contest sponsored by the Society of Oregon Composers in 1920. Their song won, was published, and was endorsed by the state superintendent of public instruction. The legislature then made it the state song in 1927.
Buchanan taught school, then practiced law. He served two terms as a state representative in the 1909 and 1911 legislative sessions. He continued to write poetry throughout his life and several books of his poems were published.
Little is known of Murtagh except that he was a professional musician with a small amount of Broadway musical lyrics and music credit. At the time he wrote the state song music, he was earning a living as a theater organist for silent movies.
Suggestions for teachers
Ask students to:
Study the vocabulary in the song. What do the words say about the state?
Compare the Oregon state songs with state songs from other states. Do the songs represent their states well? Why?
Write a class song about Oregon. Try to capture the meaning of Oregon in the lyrics.
Draw a picture that illustrates the elements of the lyrics.
Create additional lyrics for "Oregon, My Oregon."
Make a collage on a large outline map of Oregon showing scenic places that might have inspired Buchanan to write the lyrics. Use pictures printed out from this Web site to illustrate the collage.
Sing the state song as part of opening class exercises or for another class or school assembly.