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Indiana State Flag Indiana

The Indiana State Song

On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away

words and music by Paul Dresser

    'Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields,
    In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool.
    Oftentimes my thoughts revert to scenes of childhood,
    Where I first received my lessons, nature's school.
    But one thing there is missing in the picture,
    Without her face it seems so incomplete.
    I long to see my mother in the doorway,
    As she stood there years ago, her boy to greet.

   [CHORUS]
    Oh, the moonlight's fair tonight along the Wabash,
    From the fields there comes the breath of newmown hay.
    Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
    On the banks of the Wabash, far away.

    Many years have passed since I strolled by the river,
    Arm in arm, with sweetheart Mary by my side,
    It was there I tried to tell her that I loved her,
    It was there I begged of her to be my bride.
    Long years have passed since I strolled thro' the churchyard.
    She's sleeping there, my angel, Mary dear,
    I loved her, but she thought I didn't mean it,
    Still I'd give my future were she only here.

Adoption of State Song

The song, "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away," words and music by Paul Dresser, was adopted as the Indiana state song by the Sixty-eighth Regular Session of the Indiana General Assembly on March 14, 1913.

Indiana Statutes

The following information is excerpted from the Indiana Statutes, Title 1, Article 2, Chapter 6, Section 1. The words to the song are included within the statute.

    'Round my Indiana homestead wave the cornfields,
    In the distance loom the woodlands clear and cool,
    Oftentimes my tho'ts revert to scenes of childhood,
    Where I first received my lessons - nature's school.
    But one thing there is missing in the picture,
    Without her face it seems so incomplete,
    I long to see my mother in the doorway,
    As she stood there years ago, her boy to greet.

   CHORUS
    Oh, the moonlight's fair tonight along the Wabash,
    From the fields there comes the breath of new-mown hay,
    Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
    On the banks of the Wabash, far away.

    Many years have passed since I strolled by the river,
    Arm in arm, with sweetheart Mary by my side,
    It was there I tried to tell her that I loved her,
    It was there I begged of her to be my bride.
    Long years have passed since I strolled thro' the churchyard.
    She's sleeping there, my angel, Mary dear,
    I loved her, but she thought I didn't mean it,
    Still I'd give my future were she only here.

    (Formerly: Acts 1913, c.254, s.1.)


Source: Indiana State Web Site, (http://www.state.in.us), November 24, 2004
Source: State Names, Seals, Flags, and Symbols by Benjamin F. Shearer and Barbara S. Shearer, Copyright 2002
Source: State Songs America, Edited by M.J. Bristow, Copyright 2000
Source: State Names, Flags, Seals, Songs, Birds, Flowers, and Other Symbols by George Earlie Shankle, Ph.D., Copyright 1938

On the Banks of the Wabash: The Life and Music of Paul Dresser
On the Banks
of the Wabash

Clayton W. Henderson

On the Banks of the Wabash: The Life and Music of Paul Dresser, by Clayton W. Henderson. 512 pages. Publisher: Indiana Historical Society (June 2003) During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Americans, besieged by changes wrought through such forces as industrialization and urbanization, longed to return to a simpler time. For comfort, they turned to popular songs glorifying small-town values of home and hearth. Perhaps no songwriter of the time reached more people through his music than did Paul Dresser of Terre Haute, Indiana, who produced such sentimental hits as "My Gal Sal" and "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away." In On the Banks of the Wabash, author Clayton W. Henderson showcases the rags-to-riches-to-rags story of Dresser's life as a medicine-wagon showman, minstrel, comic actor and singer, composer, publisher, and playwrite.




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