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
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
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.
58 DO YOU BELIEVE?
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
59 DO YOU BELIEVE?
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.