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The debate over Maryland's state song is a familiar refrain

Maryland politicians are yet again singing different tunes about the official state song, “Maryland, My Maryland.”

And their competing refrains – for and against the song – have become as redundant as a pop station playlist.

Debate about the official state song and its ties to the Confederacy repeatedly emerges as an issue in the Maryland General Assembly. And this year is no different. A pending proposal would strip “Maryland, My Maryland” of its “official” status and replace it with the designation of “historical.” Efforts to change the lyrics (the current song refers to Unionists as “Northern scum” and call Abraham Lincoln a despot) or seek new ones in a competition were both defeated.

Here’s a “best of” compilation of the debate over the past few years, as broadcast, er, reported by The Baltimore Sun:

» In August 2017, the University of Maryland marching band decided to stop playing “Maryland, My Maryland” before football games. The move came after the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Earlier that year, the performance of the song at the Preakness horse race only included the third verse, which includes no Confederate battle cry lyrics.

» The General Assembly also took up the state song issue in 2016. State senators voted to keep the third verse of the song and add words from a 1894 poem by Western Maryland teacher James T. White. The bill died in the House of Delegates. Another bill that would’ve established a contest for a new state song also died.

» In 2015, a panel of historians, music scholars and a poet recommended that lawmakers replace most or all of the lyrics, or select a different song entirely.

» Baltimore musician Sean Tully has urged lawmakers to work a reference to Maryland abolitionist Harriet Tubman into the song’s lyrics.

» It’s not just the state song — Maryland’s flag has also been the subject of some debate. The flag combines the black-and-gold pattern of the Calvert family and the red-and-white pattern of the Crossland family. The red-and-white Crossland arms was used by some Pro-Confederate Marylanders as a sign of resistance to the Union. Gov. Larry Hogan emphasized in August that there were no plans to change the state flag.

» And, in case you were curious, here are all the lyrics to “Maryland, My Maryland,” per the state’s website:

Verse I

The despot's heel is on thy shore,


His torch is at thy temple door,


Avenge the patriotic gore

That flecked the streets of Baltimore,

And be the battle queen of yore,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse II

Hark to an exiled son's appeal,


My mother State!

to thee I kneel,


For life and death, for woe and weal,

Thy peerless chivalry reveal,

And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse III

Thou wilt not cower in the dust,


Thy beaming sword shall never rust,


Remember Carroll's sacred trust,

Remember Howard's warlike thrust,-

And all thy slumberers with the just,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse IV

Come! 'tis the red dawn of the day,


Come with thy panoplied array,


With Ringgold's spirit for the fray,

With Watson's blood at Monterey,

With fearless Lowe and dashing May,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse V

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,


Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,


Come to thine own anointed throng,

Stalking with Liberty along,

And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse VI

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant's chain,


Virginia should not call in vain,


She meets her sisters on the plain-

“Sic semper!" 'tis the proud refrain

That baffles minions back again,


Arise in majesty again,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse VII

I see the blush upon thy cheek,


For thou wast ever bravely meek,


But lo! there surges forth a shriek,

From hill to hill, from creek to creek-

Potomac calls to Chesapeake,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse VIII

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,


Thou wilt not crook to his control,


Better the fire upon thee roll, Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,

Than crucifixion of the soul,

Maryland! My Maryland!

Verse IX

I hear the distant thunder-hum,


The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,


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!

Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood contributed to this article.

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