Pair pen update of state song


Late Saturday afternoon, the strains of "Maryland, My Maryland" will play across the Pimlico infield and national television as the horses parade out for the 126th running of the Preakness Stakes.

About two hours later, to a far smaller audience at an Annapolis retirement community, a group of young singers will perform a new version of "Maryland, My Maryland" - one they think should replace the inflammatory 1861 call to the Confederacy by James Ryder Randall with lyrics by a 14-year-old Millersville girl.

Gone are the words that describe Maryland as a state "not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb," that "spurns the Northern scum."

Anna Resnick's "revised edition" celebrates crabs, black-eyed Susans and the Appalachian mountains.

The Indian Creek School student collaborated with Bill Myers, founder and director of the group Maryland Sings, to craft a state song that this generation could relate to, and replacing the lyrics advocating Marylanders to overthrow the union.

"I felt like we definitely needed a song that we could sing with pride - like the national anthem, we can sing that feeling good about our country," Anna said. "But the song as it is now, it just doesn't say anything about who we are as a state."

The Reisterstown-based Maryland Sings - whose members are ages 10 to 20 - will perform the new work, titled "The Maryland Song," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ginger Cove retirement community in Annapolis.

Myers says he started thinking about rewriting the state song in February to accurately reflect Maryland today. Later, while driving on the Baltimore Beltway, he was switching radio stations and landed on a talk show with people debating replacement of the state song.

It prompted him to act on the idea, and he asked Resnick, whom he calls one of his most gifted students, to write updated lyrics.

Resnick, a member of Maryland Sings for two years, took a few weeks to write her four-stanza piece, researching other state songs and thinking of lyrics that represent Maryland in words she knew the meaning of, unlike the original song.

"It has all these words that I couldn't understand, like 'Vandal toll,' [from stanza No. 8, "Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll, Maryland!"] that don't make sense today," she said.

Myers said Resnick did a "marvelous job" on the lyrics, and he wrote updated music replacing the state song's borrowed "O, Tannenbaum" tune.

"What I did is stay somewhat close to certain patterns found in the original," Myers said. "But I wanted to get away from the song itself, the melody completely. I wanted it to be ours and no one else's."

Resnick, who said she is from a musical family, also plays the piano and will take music composition lessons this summer. She hopes that her state song lyrics are the beginning of her musical career.

Maryland Sings also will perform the song at Dulaney Memorial Gardens cemetery May 28, and at the Flag Day celebration at Fort McHenry on June 14.

"I'm really happy with it," Resnick said. "It's beautiful. It's a lot of fun to sing it with all my friends."

Myers said it would be "wonderful" if their song would replace the state song - adopted by the General Assembly in 1939 - although that wasn't his intention in writing the song.

A bill to replace "Maryland, My Maryland" was defeated in the legislature this year.

"Early next year we may feel that this needs to go to Annapolis to see what could happen," Myers said. "But I just wanted to do something fun for my kids."

"Maryland, My Maryland"

The first and last of nine stanzas, in the 1861 wording by James Ryder Randall: The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland!

His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!

Avenge the patriotic gore

That flecked the streets of Baltimore,

And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum, Maryland!

The Old Line bugle, fife, and drum, Maryland!

She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb -

Huzza! She spurns the Northern scum!

She breathes! She burns! She'll come! She'll come! Maryland! My Maryland!

The first and last of four

stanzas, in the 2001 "revised

edition" by Anna Resnick and

Bill Myers:

Upon the coastal Atlantic Shore,

Maryland, my Maryland,

The Old Line State with historic lore,

Maryland, my Maryland.

The North and South's great crossing path,

Once marked by battles of the past.

We sing to you, our pride held fast,

Maryland, my Maryland.

Come sit beneath the White Oak Tree,

Maryland, my Maryland. The Black-Eyed Susan's growing free,

Maryland, my Maryland. The flag's still flying at the Fort The stars and stripes in colors bold

Our nation's song did there unfold.

Maryland, my Maryland.

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