By Charles A. Zimmerman
Ann Choomack, flute
Philip Ross, oboe
Tzuying Huang, clarinet
Felica Foland, bassoon
Thomas Jöstlein, horn
Xiaoxiao Qiang, violin
Eva Kozma, violin
Chris Tantillo, viola
Melissa Brooks, cello
Will James, drum set
The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was honored to create this digital performance of “Anchors Aweigh” to celebrate the commissioning of USS St. Louis (LCS-19) on August 8, 2020. The Freedom-class littoral combat ship’s sponsor, Barbara Broadhurst Taylor, has deep ties to the military—her father and father-in-law both served—and the Taylor family have been longtime supporters of the SLSO, along with many other St. Louis institutions.
When she asked the orchestra to create a special musical performance to complement the day, the SLSO jumped aboard. A usual commissioning ceremony consists of a number of events and live music, culminating in the ship’s crew running onboard. While these events have been reduced due to COVID-19, the SLSO performance and video honors the ship named for its hometown and its crew. This is the seventh ship in the U.S. Navy to be named after St. Louis.
“Anchors Aweigh,” the official march song of the United States Navy, was composed in 1906 by Charles A. Zimmerman, a navy lieutenant and bandmaster of the U.S. Naval Academy Band. The song has been paired with text by three lyricists over the years, landing on its current version by John Hagan, a now-retired naval officer, in 1997.
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; 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.
The phrase “Anchors Aweigh” is a Dutch expression, announcing that the anchors have cleared the sea bottom, and the ship is underway. The song was first used during an Army-Navy football game in 1906 (Navy won, 10-0). Its upbeat, memorable tune has since been adopted by other navies across the globe.
The video features scenes of St. Louis, starting with SLSO musicians in historic Powell Hall. The ship’s crew visited sites throughout St. Louis, from appearances at Soldiers Memorial Military Museum and The Muny, to the homes of the beloved Blues and Cardinals.
The SLSO is proud to honor the crew and their families and present a musical staple of the United States Armed Forces.