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The Song of Dedication

During the early 1950’s, band director Moehlmann decided that our community needed an official song. The song should reflect in music and lyrics a profound appreciation for the way of life enjoyed by Cedar Rapids’ people. The Band Commission created a contest for a “Song of Dedication”, offering a prize of $500 to the winner.

Thirty two composers entered compositions, and the winning entry was submitted by an Iowa City musician, Larry Barrett. Barrett was a professional musician, dance band leader, and program assistant at radio station WSUI in Iowa City. He was a cornet player in the Iowa City Community Band, and did the public address announcing of the music for their concerts. He was well known for his wit and humor as a musical personality. Torrence Carlson, a member of the contest selection committee said, “His song, for my money, was head and shoulders above all the rest”.

Mr. Moehlmann arranged Mr. Barrett’s song for concert band and Mr. Carlson wrote a vocal arrangement for mixed chorus. The new Cedar Rapids Civic Chorus performed the song at its premier concert, and copies of the arrangements were sent to all local schools.

The Cedar Rapids Municipal Band hired a female vocalist to sing the “Song of Dedication” at the end of each concert. The vocal soloist was also given the opportunity to sing additional music during one concert week. It was not always easy to find a vocalist who would come to every concert to sing a song that was over in sixty seconds. Eventually the band commission gave up trying to find a vocalist, and the band just played the music.

The band introduced the song to the public on October 21, 1962, during the annual Harvest Home Concert played at Coe’s Sinclair Auditorium. Over the years its performance in the city diminished to where it is now only performed by the Municipal Band. The song is now associated with the band more than the city. Over the past forty years the tempo of the song went through an evolution which changed its original character. The original performances were taken at a quick flowing tempo, reflecting the joy of being a part of this community. Without a vocalist to sing the words, the tempo slowed to where the song became a kind of Alma Mater reflecting reverence to the city.

The words are still important, because they reflect the feeling of appreciation of those in the audience who call Cedar Rapids their home. They also acknowledge the appreciation of the Municipal Band audience, whose attendance of the concerts made the band’s decades-long heritage possible.

The song is still played at the end of select concerts and, at times, a vocalist leads audience members in the lyrics. Tradition dictates that audience members at Municipal Band concerts stand and sing along. So that those who attend may do so, here are the words of the Cedar Rapids “Song of Dedication”:

Here in the country that I love,
Here in the City in the Country,
Green fields abound, trees line our path,
Here live in harmony the friends we have gathered.
Time and the river flow along,
Time and my life are like the river,
Through all the world and years I roam
I still will call Cedar Rapids my home.
I still will call Cedar Rapids my home.