What Is the State Song of Idaho?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2019
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The state song of Idaho is called "Here We Have Idaho," though it was previously known by the earlier title "Our Idaho" before its official adoption in the state legislature. Just as with several other state songs, it was created through the collaboration of a few talented state citizens. The song's instrumental score was originally a separate musical piece named "Garden of Paradise," which a composer named Sallie Hume Douglas completed in 1915. A University of Idaho student named McKinley Helm added the first words to the chorus two years later. Another musician named Albert J. Tompkins added two more verses, and a composer named Alice Bessee finished the state song of Idaho by combining all of the words with the musical notes of "Garden of Paradise."

Sallie Hume Douglas' instrumental song became a popular piece not long after its publication, and Alice Bessee later selected it as the score for the state song of Idaho because many Idaho citizens were familiar with the tune. She was interestingly unaware of the composer's identity or the details of its origin at the time she added the lyrics. Once the song that was first known as "Our Idaho" was finished, it soon became the adopted alma mater song of the University of Idaho largely due to the lyric writers' connections to the state's educational system.


McKinley Helm's original chorus combined with Sallie Hume Douglas' music won a an annually-awarded prize at the university in 1917. This initial song version soon became a regular selection played at University of Idaho student and alumni events. Its later adoption as the state song of Idaho was considered an easy choice due to the large numbers of citizens who associated it with school spirit and state pride.

Albert J. Tompkins had a distinguished background as the music director for the school system of Boise. His lyrics of the state song of Idaho recall imagery of untamed wilderness and the pioneer legacy as is the case with many other Western state songs in the United States. He added verses describing the state's forests, hills, and valleys as well as residents' pride in the beauty of the land. When the song was renamed "Here We Have Idaho" and placed under consideration in the state legislature, its official adoption by law in 1931 specifically gave written credit to both Albert J. Tompkins and McKinley Helm as the lyric writers.


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