"Anchors Aweigh" is the fight song of the United States Naval Academy and march of the United States Navy. It was composed in 1906 by Charles A. Zimmermann with lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles. When he composed "Anchors Aweigh," Zimmermann was a lieutenant, and had been bandmaster of the United States Naval Academy Band since 1887. Miles was Midshipman First Class at the Academy, in the class of 1907, and asked Zimmermann to assist him in composing a song for that class, to be used as a football march. Another Academy Midshipman, Royal Lovell (class of 1926) later wrote what would be adopted into the song as its third verse.
To "weigh anchor" is to bring it aboard a vessel in preparation for departure. The phrase "anchors aweigh" is a report that the anchors are clear of the sea bottom and, therefore, the ship is officially underway.
"Anchors aweigh" is often misspelled as "Anchor's away," leading to confusion of the terms and the misunderstanding that it means "to drop anchor." Another confusion is evident in the spellings encountered both with and without apostrophe. Here, it is a matter of distinguishing the singular anchor + contraction of "is" (that is, "anchor is aweigh") from the plural (anchors aweigh), meaning the anchors of all ships are raised. Although the original (now archaic) "aweigh" is verbal and transitive, the 'aweigh' used now is adjectival/adverbial in nature and meaning.
"Weigh" as a verb means to "bear" or "move", thus giving it several shades of meaning and derivation, including "weight" or heaviness. This lends itself to obvious plays on words, as with Flip Wilson's old routine about Christopher Columbus: "Columbus cried, 'Weigh anchor.' A few minutes later, a crewman reported, 'Two thousand, one hundred thirty six pounds.'"
The song was first played during the Army–Navy football game on December 1, 1906, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Navy won the game 10–0 before a crowd in excess of 30,000, their first win in the match up since 1900.
The song was gradually adopted as the song of the U.S. Navy; although there is a pending proposal to make it the official song, and to incorporate protocol into Navy regulations for its performance, its status remains unofficial. Its lyrics were considered too specific to the Academy and not representative of the Navy at large, and so were rewritten by George D. Lottman (note the reference to "farewell to college joys"). Its melody was also slightly rewritten by Domenico Savino.
The song has a joyful, brisk melody, and it has been adopted by several other navies around the world, such as the Finnish Navy. In addition to being bandmaster at the Naval Academy, Zimmerman was also the organist at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Annapolis, and the opening notes of the melody to "Anchors Aweigh" bear a marked similarity (although in a different tempo) to the opening of the ancient Marian hymn "Salve Regina", with which Zimmerman would have been thoroughly familiar.
Anchors Aweigh (1906 version), which is still used today at the Naval Academy
Stand Navy down the field, sails set to the sky;
We'll never change our course, So Army you steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll up the score, Navy, anchors aweigh!
Sail Navy down the field and sink the Army, sink the Army grey!
Get underway Navy, decks cleared for the fray;
We'll hoist true Navy Blue, So Army down your grey-y-y-y;
Full speed ahead, Navy; Army heave to;
Furl Black and Grey and Gold, and hoist the Navy, hoist the Navy Blue!
Blue of the Mighty Deep; Gold of God's Sun
Let these colors be till all of time be done, done, done,
By Severn's shore we learn Navy's stern call:
Faith, Courage, Service true, with Honor, Over Honor, Over All.
Revised Lyrics of 1926 by George D. Lottman:
Stand, Navy, out to sea, Fight our battle cry;
We'll never change our course, So vicious foe steer shy-y-y-y.
Roll out the TNT, Anchors Aweigh. Sail on to victory
And sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh.
Farewell to college joys, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay.
Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more. Here's wishing you a happy voyage home.
Revised Lyrics of 1997 by MCPON John Hagan, USN (Ret) which is used today in the fleet:
Stand Navy out to sea, fight our battle cry!
We'll never change our course so vicious foes steer shy-y-y-y!
Roll out the TNT, anchors aweigh!
Sail on to victory, and sink their bones to Davy Jones, hooray!
Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh!
Farewell to Foreign Shores, we sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay;
Through our last night ashore, drink to the foam,
Until we meet once more, here's wishing you a happy voyage home!
Blue of the mighty deep, Gold of God's great sun;In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield sings "Anchors Aweigh" in anticipation of going on a cruise ship with lots of food (after originally refusing to go until hearing about the food).
"Anchors Aweigh" is featured in the 1945 MGM musical Anchors Aweigh, performed by the U.S. Navy Band.
It is frequently quoted in Warner Bros. Cartoons to indicate nautical themes.
A short instrumental clip of "Anchors Aweigh" is featured in the "Baby June And Her News Boys" number in the stage musical Gypsy.
A short, slightly altered (with the lyric "anchors away my friends") clip is played during the first sailing of the old submarine in the movie "Down Periscope".
A band plays "Anchors Aweigh" in Batman during the film's "bomb scene".
Let these our colors be, Till All of time be done-n-n-ne;
On seven seas we learn, Navy's stern call:
Faith, courage, service true, With honor over, honor over all.