The journey of DePaul's fight song

Rachel Marciano
May 10, 2018

We will gather, 'neath the banner,
'Neath the scarlet and the blue.
While in song we sing your praises,
Praises for old DePaul U.
Let the battle wage and threaten,
Yours the Victory to claim.
While we fight beneath your standard
Proud: exulting in your name.

These are the lyrics to DePaul's fight song, also known as the "Victory Song." Written in 1930 by J. Leo Sullivan, a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Arthur C. Becker, founding dean of the School of Music, this is the version with which most DePaul community members are familiar. However, in the nearly 90 years since the original's creation, DePaul has tested a number of versions and substitutions in hopes of finding the perfect victory march.

Prior to 1930, the university did not have an official fight song. Although there is record of a song titled "All Hail DePaul, Fair University," dating back to 1908, it seems too long to be a fight song of any kind. Over the years, a handful of DePaul students began petitioning for a new fight song that had more contemporary lyrics. A December 1927 edition of "The DePaulia" even printed suggested lyrics for a new version of the tune. In the coming years, "The DePaulia" would again play host to a number of competitions and votes for a new school song, but nothing stuck with the DePaul community.

DePaul Demons sheet music

Written by television personality Fred Waring, a version of the university's fight song, titled 'DePaul Demons,' debuted on Waring's nightly program in 1942. The original sheet music now lives in the university's Special Collections and Archives. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

It was not until the 1940s that the student body would break ground in achieving an updated fight song. In February 1941, the Student Activity Board began a drive to hire Fred Waring and Charles Gaynor to compose a new march for the Blue Demons, which would not replace the original, but rather be sung alongside the "Victory Song." At the time, Waring was a popular radio personality and television bandleader, and Gaynor a well-known musical composer.

"Waring was a pretty famous musical personality during the 1940s," says the Rev. Ed Udovic, C.M., secretary of DePaul and vice president for university mission and ministry. "As a sidelight to his nightly programming, he composed written-to-order victory marches for a handful of colleges and universities between 1940 and 1942 or so. Once our Student Activity Board put together an original petition and gained enough signatures, he composed a new song for DePaul."

On March 13, 1942, "DePaul Demons" debuted on Waring's national television program, "Pleasure Time." Though the song was popular with the student body at first, Sullivan and Becker's original remained the official song through the 1940s and '50s.

In 1957, student Joe Scotti wrote "The Scarlet and the Blue," which the DePaul community used at rallies and games until the early 1960s. However, as of 1965, the "Victory Song" was again listed as the official fight song for the university and has remained uninterrupted ever since.