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The official state song of Massachusetts is “All Hail to Massachusetts,” written by Arthur J. Marsh. It was unofficially adopted in 1966, but it was written into law by the state Legislature in September 1981. The song’s lyrics celebrate the state’s rich history, with the opening lines mentioning key battles in the Revolutionary War, such as Bunker Hill and Lexington and Concord. It also mentions key items that are associated with Massachusetts, such as baked beans, cod, and the Massachusetts Bay, for which the state has been nicknamed the Bay State. Although “All Hail to Massachusetts” is officially listed as the state song, Massachusetts also has adopted its own folk song, “Massachusetts,” by Arlo Guthrie, as well as a number of other songs that have been adopted by the Commonwealth.
The opening lines to the state song of Massachusetts celebrate the state’s patriotism and history as a key area during the Revolutionary War. Important battles are remembered in the lines “For Bunker Hill and Charlestown, and flag we love to wave: For Lexington and Concord, and the shot heard 'round the world; All hail to Massachusetts, we'll keep her flag unfurled.” Lexington and Concord were the towns in which the first battles of the war were fought, with the “shot heard round the world” referring to the first shot that began the fighting. The battle of Bunker Hill was one of the early tests of the Colonial Army as they attempted to seize the area from British forces, with both sides suffering heavy losses.
Other lyrics of the state song of Massachusetts tell more about the state and what makes it unique. Early settlers in the area gave it the nickname the Bay State because of its proximity to several large bodies of water, and this has become the state’s most recognized nickname. Another popular symbol of Massachusetts is baked beans. Navy beans, which were unknown to Europeans before traveling to the Americas, were a staple food item for Native Americans. Settlers in Massachusetts learned to make them, and they became known as Boston baked beans. Eventually they were recognized by the Legislature as an official state symbol.
While “All Hail to Massachusetts” is listed by most sources as the state song of Massachusetts, other pieces of music have also been officially recognized by the Legislature. The state folk song is “Massachusetts” by Arlo Guthrie. Massachusetts also has a polka called “Say Hello to Someone from Massachusetts” and its own state ode, called “Ode to Massachusetts.”
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