Edited by Azizi Powell
The words "I'll be a (fraternity name) till the day I die" can be traced to a 1884 Sig Chi Fraternity song.
This post provides information about that Sigma Chi song and explores how predominately Black fraternities have used their creativity to compose songs, chants, and steps that include the "I'll be a (fraternity name) till the day I die" lyrics.
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, historical, and cultural purposes.
This post is part of an ongoing pancocojams series that provides what I consider to be likely and/or confirmed sources for historically Black Greek letter fraternity or sorority songs and chants.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to all those who are featured in the YouTube examples that are included in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of those examples on YouTube.
INFORMATION ABOUT SIGMA CHI FRATERNITY
"Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) is a social fraternity in North America. The fraternity has 244 active chapters across the United States and Canada and has initiated more than 300,000 members. The fraternity was founded on June 28, 1855 at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio by members who split from the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
Sigma Chi is divided into five operational entities: the Sigma Chi Fraternity, the Sigma Chi Foundation, the Risk Management Foundation, Constantine Capital Inc., and Blue and Gold Travel Services.
Like all fraternities, Sigma Chi has its own colors, insignia, and rituals. According to the fraternity's constitution, "the purpose of this fraternity shall be to cultivate and maintain the high ideals of friendship, justice, and learning upon which Sigma Chi was founded"....
The six men decided to form their own fraternity along with William Lewis Lockwood, a student from New York who had not joined a fraternity. On June 28, 1855, the organization was founded under the name Sigma Phi Fraternity. Lockwood used his business training to help organize the fraternity in its early years. The eventual theft of Sigma Phi's constitution, rituals, seals, and other records from Lockwood's room in Oxford in January 1856 prompted them to change the name of the fraternity to Sigma Chi. It is possible this action could have been forced upon the group as there was already a Sigma Phi Society"...
This page notes that there were confederate chapters of Sigma Chi during the U.S. Civil War.
Click https://history.sigmachi.org/whiteclause for information about Sigma Chi's "White Clause" which restricted that fraternity's membership to White men only. The first Black member was initiated into that fraternity in 1971.
INFORMATION ABOUT TWO SIGMA CHI SONGS WITH THE LINE "TILL THE DAY I DIE"
"A Sig I Am
The only Sigma Chi song more frequently sung than "The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" is "A Sig I Am." Written in 1884 by three undergraduates of the Beta Chapter at Wooster, this century-old song can be heard echoing in every chapter house throughout the Sigma Chi world. Every Sigma Chi knows the words and melody. Its popularity among Sigma Chi's can be attributed to its simplicity of melody and words. It was first sung by the delegates to the 1884 Grand Chapter."
" "Happy Day":Words by Richard C. Hughes, Wooster 1884, Walter H. Reynods, Wooster 1886, and McClure S. Todd, Wooster 1887
A Sig I am, A Sig I'll be,
A Sig through all eternity,
A Sig by day, a Sig by night
To be a Sig is my delight
Sig, oh Sig, Sigma Chi,
I'll be a Sig until I die;
Sig, oh Sig, Sigma Chi,
I'll be a Sig until I die."
"Hark! The Sigs
Words by M.E. Coleman, Chicago 1898;
Music by E.S. Smith, Chicago '08
Hark! thru the night comes a sound of voices, raised by a loyal
and lusty crew.
The Sigs are marching and chanting praises
Of friendship lasting, of hearts so true;
And as we march along we'll sing a song; In praise of dear old
We'll sing that grand old song "A Sig I am;" "A Sig I'll be until I die.""
Although the first page that I quoted indicates that one of that :this century-old song can be heard echoing in every chapter house throughout the Sigma Chi world", I haven't been able to find examples of these songs on YouTube or elsewhere else online. Are these Sigma Chi songs still sung by members of that fraternity? Do they have tunes that are familiar in the U.S.A?
FOUNDING DATES & LOCATIONS OF COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY BASED HISTORICALLY BLACK FRATERNITIES
This list only includes the Black Greek letter fraternities that are members of The National Pan-Hellenic Council. These organizations and four Black Greek letter sororities- are referred to as "The Divine Nine.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Founded 1906, Cornell University
Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Indiana University
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Founded 1911, Howard University
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Founded 1914, Howard University
Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Founded 1963, Morgan State University
EXAMPLES OF HISTORICALLY BLACK GREEK LETTER FRATERNITY SONGS, CHANTS, AND SAYINGS THAT INCLUDE THE WORDS "I'LL BE A (FRATERNITY NAME) UNTIL THE DAY I DIE"
Do you know of other examples of songs, chants, or sayings with the words "I'll be a (fraternity name) until the day I die"? If so, please share those examples in this post's comment section.
I haven't found any examples of songs, chants, or sayings from Iota Phi Theta Fraternity that includes the words that are featured in this post. I also did not include any examples of this saying from historically Black Greek letter sororities. If any readers know of any such examples or links to those examples, and/or other examples of this saying in other Greek letter organizations, please share that information in the comment section below.
I'm presenting the organizations based on their founding date with the oldest fraternity presented first.
ALPHA PHI ALPHA FRATERNITY, INC
Alpha Phi Alpha "Zoom" // Eta Eta Chapter // Founder's Day
Aye, It's Ray Published on Apr 22, 2015
Here's a snippet from an impromptu founder's day celebration that I participated in with my chapter brothers. Hope you enjoy.
"Happy Founders Day to the ICE COLD Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha
Location: The "Go" known to outsiders as Chicago
Some men pledge Kappa
Some pledge Que Psi Phi
But I pledged Alpha Phi Alpha
And I’ll be an Alpha Man until the
Day I die
Said zoom, zoom, zoom my brothers
I love my black and gold, 06
I got the fever all in my body
The fever down in my soul
That Alpha fever
Happy Founders Day my Brothers! It is a very COLD day in Chicago (literally). 1-9-0-6"
KAPPA ALPHA PSI FRATERNITY, INC.
Kappa Alpha Psi Til I Die
Stretchluv, Uploaded on Feb 19, 2012
I heard this song when I was in the process of crossing the burning sands and never forgot it
The words that are featured in this post are sung around 3:04 in this sound file. There's also a poster shown with the words "Phi Nu Pi till the day I die." "Phi Nu Pi" has a secret, sacred meaning for members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Kappa Alpha Psi Chants
By Gray Miller
..."While they may be mainly focused on their own achievements, the Kappa men are not completely above putting down the other Greek organizations. However, they do it in a rather oblique way: through a chant called the "Kappa bet" which goes all the way through the Greek alphabet, with occasional commentary. "Alpha, Beta, Gamma, whoa!" it starts, and goes on through many letters until it reaches "Kappa Alpha Psi - Until the Day I Die!" It also exhorts the members to "Never be Omega!""
OMEGA PSI PHI FRATERNITY, INC.
Beta Sigma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Yard Show Fall 2012
Human Jukebox Media, Published on Nov 7, 2012
OmegaWATCH IT HD!!!!!!!!
Yje line "Que Psi Phi till the day we die: is found 1:17
GE Retro Hop: 2014 Conclave - Philadelphia (Omega Psi Phi)
GEHighOctane11 Published on Jul 14, 2014
GE MASSIVELY sets it owt again at Fairmount Park during the 2014 Philly Conclave
Here's a comment from that video's discussion thread:
Brian Compton, 2015
"Q psi phi.. until the day we die"
PHI BETA SIGMA
"THE BLUE AND WHITE
(singing) The Blue and White of Phi Beta Sigma are the only colors I see!
The other frats work good for the others, but they wasn't good enough for me!
I don't want to be no Alpha or no morther f-in Nupe!
I don't want to be a Kappa or a doggone "Q"!
I just want my Blu Phi till the day that I die!
Ah Blu Phi! Ah Blu Phi! Ah Blu Phiiii!!!!"
Pancocojams editor's note: This chant is given as it is written on that page.
UPDATE: August 12, 2016
Note: This chant is one of a number of other chants that were posted by Guest, 23 Feb 10 - 11:31 AM
on a mudcat folk music discussion thread that I started in 2007 http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=103135. Guest indicated that he or she got the examples that he or she added to that thread from a Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity document.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh to Alpha,
Go to hell with Omega Psi Phi!
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh to Kappa,
Phi Beta Sigma’s are passing by!
No Alpha, No Kappa, no Que Psi Phi,
I’m being faithful to Phi Beta Sigma till the day I die!
Warning: A number of other examples that that Guest and that some other bloggers (but not me)posted on that discussion thread contain profanity and sexually explicit language.
ADDENDUM: EXAMPLE FROM ANOTHER FRATERNITY
Here's an example of the saying "(fraternity name) till the day I die" in fraternities other than the BGLO (Black Greek Letter Organizations) that I've showcased in this post:
"Lambda Phi Epsilon
...My life has become so much more exciting and fulfilling, and I am sure it will continue to be even after leaving University because I am a Lambda for life. I feel extremely privileged and honoured to be a part of LFE. Mad love for my ΛΦΕ Brothers, especially the ones from from my Chapter who have been there for me since day 1. Lphie till the day I die. T.o. Lambdas #LambdaPhiEpsilon #IAmAProudFraternityMan #LPhiE #AlphaXiChapter" — Jeffrey Liu, University of Toronto "
Do you know any other examples of this saying from other Greek letter organizations? If so, for the folkloric and historical record, please add to this post. Thanks!
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