In July, members of U-M Women’s Glee Club spent eight days in South Africa to perform in a choral festival called Ihlombe! (which means applause in Zulu). The club performed in four formal concerts in Johannesburg and Cape Town with choirs from Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and Los Angeles. They also traveled to a small village called Alexandra to perform in a church service. When they weren’t singing, they participated in dance workshops, took a safari drive near the Cradle of Humankind, and sampled African food—keeping a blog the whole way.

While on a bus tour heading to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the women were taken aback by the view of False Bay outside their windows.

“When we saw the view, we asked the bus driver to pull over and stop so we could take pictures. It was a little breezy, but quiet and incredibly gorgeous,” says glee club member Mary Wilhem, an LSA junior majoring in English.

The group decided that the scene provided the ideal backdrop for “The Yellow and Blue,” U-M’s alma mater, originally composed in 1886 by Charles Mills Gayley.

“The version of the song was arranged specifically for our choir by our conductor [Julie Skadsem]. We perform it at every concert and every Saturday before football games,” says Wilhem.

“It suits our voices well, but more importantly, it praises the name of Michigan—‘Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue’—and that is what we wanted to bring home with us: a vision of our Michigan pride spread all the way to the southern tip of Africa.”

The Yellow and Blue

Sing to the colors that float in the light;
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!
Yellow the stars as they ride through the night
And the reel in a rollicking crew;
Yellow the fields where ripens the grain
And yellow the moon on the harvest wain;
Hail to the colors that float in the light
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!

Blue are the billows that bow to the sun
When yellow robed morning is due.
Blue are the curtains that evening has spun
The slumbers of Phoebus to woo;
Blue are the blossoms to memory dear
And blue is the sapphire and gleams like a tear;
Hail to the ribbons that nature has spun'
Hurrah for the Yellow and Blue!

(Charles Mills Gayley/Michael William Balfe)