Altar Call 2006: Repent, Rejoice, and BELIEVE

Father John Haldane's "Altar Call" has become an annual preseason staple on a number of Michigan websites over the past few years and is appearing for the first time ever this year on GoBlueWolverine. The first edition of the Altar Call predicted an undefeated season in 1997. The tenth edition does the same.

After Michigan finished 7-5 last year, some fans have doubts about how well their Wolverines will do in 2006. Since 1997, many of those same fans have sought a divine source of optimism in the preseason, and one of the biggest Michigan fans on the planet has been there to satisfy that need. Father John Haldane correctly called the Wolverines perfect season in 1997, and sees a similar fate in the cards for 2006.

"Football is a religion and Saturday is the Holy Day of obligation," Father John said, quoting Michigan great Bob Ufer. This is not the first time that Haldane has seen a perfect season coming. He wrote his first Altar Call in 1997.

"I wrote it because of the Michigan fans' disappointment with the (No. 14) preseason ranking," Haldane said regarding the genesis of the Altar Call ten years ago. "There was a lot of criticism of Michigan and fear of a poor season. I wrote it to stir their blood."

Now in 2006, with a similar preseason ranking for the Wolverines (No. 15), the 10th edition of the Altar Call yet again serves as a beacon of hope for those fans lost in the abyss of pessimism.

The altar is a most powerful moral and ethical force. At the altar, the memory of what we have done or not done is as clear as noon because at the altar, the light is different. At the altar, the world stops and the confusion of doubt that obscures clear vision and hope vanishes like smoke above the offering. At the altar, there is no looking around, comparing and being compared, hoping that others will fail that we may look good. Lame excuses such as “Lloydball” and “Timekeeper” fall unspoken to the floor, while glib “Monday Morning” descriptions of fault are awkwardly out of place. At the altar, the truth is inescapable.

Come to the Altar to publicly demonstrate to the world that you are proud to be committed to Michigan football. Come to the Altar to make a new confession of BELIEF in Michigan. If you have lapsed, REPENT! Return to the Altar to rededicate yourself and be blessed. Return to the Altar to pledge yourself to a supporting role and BELIEVE!

Whoever acknowledges Michigan before all will also be acknowledged before all as a BELIEVER. But whoever disavows the Altar Call or scoffs at its hope for the season will be disowned by True Blue Believers. The wagon is loaded and we travel to the Altar today. Climb aboard now, for it is the eleventh hour and there will be no room for today’s unbelievers come tomorrow. BELIEVE!


Altar Call© 2006

Repent, Rejoice, and BELIEVE!

© 2006, Father John Haldane.  All Rights Reserved


1     Blow the trumpet in Michigan;

       Sound the horns in my holy den.

       Come to the hole that Yost dug,

       To the Altar that Crisler paid for.

       It is the tabernacle that Canham carpeted

       And the shrine that Schembechler filled

       Every Saturday in the fall1


2     Let all who live in the land rejoice,

       For the day of the Wolverine is coming.

       It is close at hand.

       The Temple shall again be filled

       In the realization of the prophecies

       And to the delight of the masses


3     It is a day of hope and salvation,

       The holy day of obligation,

       The day of maize and blue.


4      Like dawn spreading across the skies,

       An experienced and mighty army comes,

       Such as was unseen last year

       Except in the faces of its youth.


5     You can feel the spirit. 

       You can feel the ghosts of all the great games

       And all the great players

       And all the great coaches

       Who have built the tradition2


6    There come significant changes

       At the North and the South

       In the army and in the tabernacle

       But the Altar remains inviolable

       And the holy garments untouched

       The song remains the same

       And the tradition is intact


7     Before the valiant, tailgates drop,

       Behind them horns blast away

       Before the men, the field is open, wide, and smooth,

       Behind them, a desert waste and fallen enemies.

       Nothing shall stop the Victors.


8    They bring the lumber;

       Branch and Woodley

       From many lands

       English, Germany, North, and Dutch

       They come with Hart

       And strength of numbers


9    With a noise like that of thunder

       They leap over fallen foes,

       Like a crackling fire consuming stubble,

       They march towards their goals

       One by one.


10   At the sight of them, opponents are in anguish;

       every face turns pale.

       Henne and Breaston lead the charge

       Their line is their wall of courage.


11   The mighty charge like warriors;

       They scale defenses like soldiers.

       They all march in line,

       Not swerving from their course.


12   They do not jostle each other;

       Each marches straight ahead.

       They plunge through defenses

       Without breaking ranks.


13   They rush upon the foe;

       They run through all defenses.

       They pass them by with strength of arm;

       Their unity is their armor.


14   Before them the conference shakes;

       The BCS trembles.

       The moods of the favored are darkened

       And their stars no longer shine.


15   The Lloyd thunders

       At the head of his army;

       His forces are loyal and strong,

       Mighty are those who obey his command.

       The battles of the Team are great;

       Their plans are drawn up.

       Who can endure them?


16   "Even now," declares the Prophet,

       "Return to faith with all your heart,

       BELIEVING in us and all that lies ahead."


17   Rend your heart

       And not your garments.

       Return to the TEAM of the Lloyd,

       For he is wise and honest,

       Slow to anger and abounding in determination,

       He will not give Believers calamity or despair.


18   Now blow the trumpet in the House,

       For a cheer they are here, triumphant,

       In stalwart step they're nighing.

       With shouts of victory, crying.

       We hurrah, hurrah, we greet you now, Hail!


19   For we their praises sing

       For the glory and fame they've brought us,

       Loud let the bells all ring,

       For here they come with banners flying

       For we their praises tell.3

20   The season starts, the games begin

       And you are at the altar.

       Say you BELIEVE in Maize and Blue

       And Victories ever after.

       Say you BELIEVE to make it so

       The Maize and Blue will heed you,

       And by your faith and by their might

       Victory shall be ours.


21   In the days of old

       When Canham's carpet was new

       There came the Commodores

       With banners waving and warriors chanting

       And their blood was the first spilled

       Upon the floor of the renovated Temple


22   Come again the Commodores

       When again the Temple has been improved

       Come again the Commodores

       With banners waving and warriors chanting

       And their blood shall flow again

       Victory is ours, says the Lloyd



23   "I will drive the northern army far from you,

       Pushing it backwards until it falls,"

       As comes the northern tribe from the Central lands

       The Temple is readied and the altar cleansed

       For a new sacrifice shall go up;

       It shall rise with the cheers and the songs

       Of the Victors


24   Be not afraid, O Blue;

       Be glad and rejoice.

       Surely the Team has done great things

       Again.  The second Victory is ours

       The chips have fallen



25   Be not afraid of leprechauns and magic,

       Of giant generals and experienced warriors

       For the open pastures may be green

       But it is your trees that are bearing their fruit;

       Your rows have been hoed, the ground is tilled

       Rocks that cause stumbling have been removed

       And your march to the great harvest has begun


26   Be glad, O people of Michigan,

       Rejoice in the Lloyd, your leader,

       For he has given you tools

       For the planting, the sowing, and the harvest

       He sends you down the road to the Bend,

       Where you shall pluck up the green weeds

       And cast them into the fire.


27   The raised arms of the false god shall drop;

       The temple of the heathens shall not see a worthy sacrifice

       But upon their own altar, shall their own talents burn

       And their gifts be laid waste

       And the magic shall be in the numbers 3 and 19

       For they measure your victories, now and over this foe



28   I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten your best

       The great locust and the young locust

       The losses of the past will be a memory

       Not remembered in song or sorrow

       But a warning to those who would contend against you.


29   You will have plenty, until you are full, and all is complete

       And you will praise the name of the players,

       Who have worked wonders for you

       Never again will you doubt

       Or question the Coaches and the Players

       Who bring you victory


30   When come the badgers from their holes

       To dig beneath the foundations of your temple,

       And to try to topple your altar

       The BELIEVERS shall be there


31   And afterward,

       When victory over the invaders has been secured

       They will pour out their Spirit on all the people.

       Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

       Your old men will dream dreams,

       Your young men will see visions

       And all shall become BELIEVERS!


32   Do you fear the night?

       Are you weary from travel on the road?

       Do demons of doubt plague you like gophers

       That devour your gardens

       And consume your roses?

       FEAR NOT!  The BELIEVERS are with you


33   You have battled strong four times

       What is five, when more are yet to come?

       The road is long with many a winding turn

       While we're on the way to there

       Put away all fear and see again

       The glory of victory; it is yours



34   Beware your brother, for he comes

       Not with gifts or praise

       But to steal your birthright

       The child of the handmaiden has deceived you before

       Listen to the BELIEVERS and we won't get fooled again


35   Watch now, as your brother comes to your own sanctuary

       Listen as he declares his right to be your equal

       The hiss of a green snake cannot hide the goal

       Of the one who covets his brother's birthright


36   Strike him down! 

       Do not let him close to your altar

       As I live, make no amends because he is your brother

       For he would make none to you

       Show no mercy

       And victory is assured again.



37   The night is black and darkness falls

       But the enemy of the Team is clothed in white

       See him!  His god is feeble

       The night has two hundred thousand eyes

       And two hundred thousand eyes can't help but see

       The blaze of the arm of the son of the Maize


38   The state of the Penn

       Reveals the condition of the sheep

       They tremble before you

       Lambs to the slaughter

       The lion lies down with the lamb

       And both are offerings

       To your victory



39   Return to the Altar, O Wolverines!

       Return to the tabernacle of hope

       Bring the spoils of your victories

       The trophies of other lands place before us

       Here in our House, we abide in strength

       Here in our place of worship

       We sing!


40   What shall we offer, O Team

       For the victories you have given us?

       What offering is worthy

       Of this return to our people in glory?


41   We shall pluck birds from the sky

       Like eagles we shall swoop upon them

       The birds of Iowa shall be rendered in two

       And the sweet smell of their offering

       Will be pleasing to the whole of the congregation.



42   Rest not the weary bones and tired bodies

       You have been ransomed unharmed

       From the battle waged against you,

       From the desires of your enemies


43   Yet comes another horseman

       And comes another pretender to your crown

       Do not grant the wicked their desires;

       Do not let their plans succeed,

       Or they will become proud.


44   Look!  Clothed in purple, they flee from the attack,

       They flee from the veterans,

       They flee from the young warriors

       And from the heat of battle

       Victory is ours again, O Michigan!



45   The mighty have come upon the Temple of the Lloyd

       And they have all been vanquished

       One last army stands at the ready; unknown warriors

       Never have they been seen in this part of the world

       They stand timid at the gates of the House

       They cannot abide.  The battle begins.

       The men of Michigan are ready.


46   In frenzied excitement they eat up the ground;

       They cannot stand still when The Victors sounds.

       At the blast of the trumpet they snort!

       They catch the scent of battle from the tunnel,

       The shout of commanders and the battle cry,

       Deflate Ball State!

       And victory comes easily, as foretold.



47   The Michigan Men are mighty in faith

       They move like swift chariots across the dry plains

       Their feet are like the feet of deer;

       They stand tall on the heights.

       They train their hands for battle;

       Their strength is unmatched by their foes.


48   The shield of victory sustains

       The path is broadened beneath them,

       So that their ankles do not turn

       They pursue their enemies and overtake them;

       They do not turn back till they are destroyed.

       They crush them so that they cannot rise;

       They fall beneath your feet.

       And the battle is won in the land of the Hoosiers.



49   The enemies are all vanquished; the Temple is safe

       The Altar has been saved from the hands of usurpers

       A final foe lies between a cold winter

       And the glory of a Glendale Fiesta

       One last battle looms

       Goliath stands taunting in the land

       That is round on its ends, and high in the middle


50   Oh, the anguish, the anguish!

       Why do you writhe in worry?

       Oh, the agony of your doubt!

       Though your heart pounds within you,

       You cannot keep silent.

       For you have heard the sound of the trumpet;

       You have heard the battle cry.


51   Across the field

       See the battle standard!

      Hear the sound of the trumpet

      But do not fear!


52   This is what the BELIEVERS say to you:

       "Within the hour, as measured in sports time

       All the pomp of Columbus will come to an end.

       The men of the Maize and Blue will crush the nuts;

       With their offense they will strike them down.


53   Every stroke laid upon them

       Will be to the music of the Victors,

       As the battle rages with the blows of arms

       And the rushing of feet.


54   Behold! Buckeyes are nuts and not gods!

       Their backs are flesh and not spirit.

       When the Lloyd stretches out his hand,

       He who is scarlet will stumble,

       He who is grey will fall;

       They will perish together.


55   Columbus will fall by a sword that is not of man;

       A sword not of mortals will devour them.

       They will flee before the sword

       And their young men will be put to the ground.


56   Their stronghold will fall because of terror;

       At sight of the maize and blue block "M"

       Their commanders will panic,"

       It is the spirit of BELIVERS that conquers

       It is BELIEVING in the Team that wins battles

       Victory comes to those who execute

       The commands of the Lloyd

       In faith



       And I will show wonders in the heavens

       And on the earth,


       And everyone who calls

       On the Maize and Blue will be saved;

       For in Ann Arbor and in Columbus

       There will be deliverance,

       As the Prophet has declared,

       To the TEAM

       And the BELIEVERS.



       Then come to the Altar

       Heed the words I have written

       And write them upon your hearts

       On the BELIEVERS, both women and men,

       I will pour out my Spirit

       Despair will melt

       And hope will fill their hearts



       How can you say, "We are warriors,

       Victors valiant in battle"

       If you do not BELIEVE?


60   Come now and kneel at the Altar

       Cast your doubts into the holy fire

       And make your holy offering

       To the Team

       To the Men

       To the BELIEVERS

       And to the Lloyd.


BELIEVE and it shall come to pass.  Were it not so, I would have told you.





1           paraphrasing Bob Ufer quote about Michigan Stadium

2              Keith Jackson quote about Michigan Stadium

3          Opening lines of "The Victors" (with minor modifications)


The contents of this Altar Call© 2006 and all Altar Calls previously published are copyrighted and may not be copied, publicly displayed, or used in any manner including posting on internet sites or boards or chat rooms without the express written consent of Father John Haldane (  All approved postings of this Altar Call© 2006 and any previous Altar Call© must include this notice.  All rights are reserved.


This is the tenth consecutive year that Father John has written an Altar Call© at the start of the college football season.  The first Altar Call© in 1997 predicted with uncanny accuracy the undefeated, national championship season of the University of Michigan.  Each year thereafter, the Michigan faithful have requested another Altar Call© as a token of good luck and an elixir of emotional support for the coming season.  May all who share in this latest missive find an excited soul and a deep BELIEF in the Team, the Team, the Team!  May you always bask in the blessings of the Bo, the Lloyd, and the Ufer's Spirit.  Amen.

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