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Centennial: Utah We Love Thee


by Sheri Sohm. Music inspires and educates.


  • Music: 'Utah, we Love Thee'
  • Music: Original music from Utah composers
  • Teacher provided: Promotional material from Utah Travel Council or Tourist.
  • Contact the school music specialist to help students with melodies and song writing.

Background for Teachers

All states have official songs written to spotlight the unique characteristics of their state. The songs inspire pride and are sung during special occasions. 'Utah, We Love Thee,' was written by Evan Stephens as Utah was obtaining statehood. Utah had experienced great changes from the arrival of the pioneers in 1847 to long awaited statehood in 1896. The size of the territory had diminished while settlements spread throughout the land, Utah's citizens included people from a variety of countries, cultures and religions. Technology had advanced from handcarts and candles to streetcars and electric lights. On January 4, 1896 Utah entered the Union. The people had great celebrations! 'Utah, We Love Thee' was adopted by the Utah State Legislature on February 19, 1917. Because statehood was on the mind of the composer, there are many references to Utah taking its rightful place in the union.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Students will learn the state song.
  • Students will compare Utah of 100 years ago with Utah today.
  • Students will be exposed to original works by other Utahans.
  • Students will write a Utah Centennial song to inspire and educate citizens about Utah as it exists today and as it looks towards the future.

Instructional Procedures


See preface material for the Utah Centennial Lesson Plans book.

The teacher will bring a personally meaningful song to school.

Play the song and explain why it is important in your life. Discuss how music brings memories, reminds us of special times, music makes people happy, nostalgic, etc. Discuss how both words and melodies can have special meaning.

Have students describe a meaningful song that is important to them. Discuss the difference between a song that is popular for the moment and remaining a favorite over time.

Assign students to interview parents in order to discover songs that have remained meaningful in their lives.

Ask students to describe the ways music can effect emotions (music can inspire, bring back memories, create emotions and educate). Statehood and the State Song: Read the 'Background' material to students. Explain that all states have a song. Utah's song reflects the pride felt by the citizens as Utah became a state.

Play and have students sing 'Utah, We Love Thee'

Ask 'Which phrases reflect pride in Statehood?' ('Columbia's brightest star,' 'Bright in our banner's blue, Among her sisters true, she proudly comes to view').

Discuss present day Utah. Ask 'What would be emphasized in a song about Utah today?' Generate a list of the state's present day characteristics, industries, tourist attractions, geography, cultures, history, unique traits etc.

Ask 'If you were asked to write a song about Utah, what aspects would you concentrate on?' Share answers.

Share the original songs written by Utahans with the students. Sing the songs and discuss how they differ from the state song.

Ask students to compare and contrast the songs about Utah. Point out that some of the composers used original music and words, while others used familiar melodies and original words.

Brainstorm familiar melodies that might be used with original words to create a song about Utah.


Assign students to compose a 'Utah Centennial Song.' Students may wish to use a familiar melody or compose an original one. Students will consider ways to inspire and educate people about the state through their song. Schools may wish to have a Centennial Song competition. The criteria might include:

  • Which song is the most informational?
  • Which song is the most fun to sing?
  • Which song is the most original?
  • Which song inspires pride in the state? etc.
Send a copy of the winning song to the State Office of Education or the State Centennial Commission.

Created: 02/13/1997
Updated: 02/05/2018