Marblehead is one of only a few communities that can claim title to an Official Town Anthem: Marblehead Forever. Popular with Marbleheaders since its composition in 1887, Marblehead Forever has been decreed by the Board of Selectmen as the town's official anthem.
Marblehead Forever was written by Marcia Martin Selman. Born in 1856, Selman was an active member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. She graduated from the State Normal School at Salem (now Salem State College) and taught at the Orne Street School in Marblehead. Longing to become a minister, she studied at Tufts Theological School and graduated in 1896. The Reverend Selman took preaching assignments in several locations, eventually returning to Marblehead as pastor of the Universalist Church.
Because of her involvement with the Women's Christian Temperance Union, her original composition included the line, "and from whiskey bondage we will keep her free." This was later changed to, "and from all dishonor we will keep her free."
Reverend Selman set the words of Marblehead Forever to the music of the hymn tune "The Lily of the Valley", from a melody by J. R. Murray, "Songs of Rejoicing", 1888. The Reverend Selman died in 1932.
Original lyrics by Marcia Martin Selman
Music by J. R. Murray
The men of old were heroes,
who fought by land and sea,
to preserve their homes from
tyranny and shame,
And enrolled among the bravest
writ high in history,
Stands Old Marblehead, beloved and honored name.
Then Marblehead forever!
God bless the good old town.
May she never shame her noble ancestry.
She was first in Revolution,
was first in '61.
And from whiskey bondage we will keep her free
The men of old were heroes
but they are in their graves,
and 'tis ours, their sons,
the battle now to fight.
For our homes and altars tremble,
before the greed of knaves,
who assail the cause of God and home and right.
Then up and do your duty!
Too long ingloriously,
did we sleep while Rum held
Now, rally with your ballots,
and let his hirelings see
that when first we drove him out he went to stay.