Hello,I devoted some time to think about his question and my response is below.
Let me start by saying that I mean no disrespect to you or or Southerners but I was watching your Dawgs play Arkansas tonight and I have a question that's really bothering me. You've probably been asked this before, but your fight song sounds a lot like the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It seemed odd to me that a Southern school would use that song since it was a Union marching song in the Civil War. A quick google search suggested that some people even think that the Battle Hymn of the Republic advocated the scorched earth policy that Sherman used during his march through Georgia. It sounds like Auburn also uses the same tune and it just seems terribly ironic that Southern schools would use a song that is so tied to the North. Anyway, since you're a Georgia guy in Midwestern exile, I thought you might have a good perspective on this.
It is the tune from Battle Hymn of the Republic. I consider Auburn's use to be thievery, as they use the same arrangement as Georgia. The arrangement was first used a mere 50 years after the end of the Civil War, which was adopted as Georgia's unofficial fight song in 1915. Georgia's official fight song is "Hail to Georgia." The arrangement, titled "Glory, Glory to Old Georgia," or simply "Glory, Glory" was written by Hugh Hodgson, whom Georgia's music school is named for. Auburn's, quite unoriginally, is "Glory, Glory to Ole Auburn."
Growing up Baptist, we routinely sang "The Battle Hymn" in church, so I never questioned the use of the song. It was merely a religious song, and I suspect that is why its use as a fight song was never questioned in Georgia, since the majority of Georgia is Protestant. While I grew up with the sentiment of Yankee aggression as a backdrop for the Civil War, for example, my Great-Grandfather was born two years after the War, we (Georgians specifically) embraced the change after the War far more fervently than our Southern brethren. In that manner, we probably saw the use of the Battle Hymn as both co-oping a song that is associated with General Sherman (he is still a redheaded little firebug in my book) and his tactics and using that context as empowerment to our athletic teams.
If nothing else, it makes for a rousing cheer that is both immediately recognizable and easily learned. A great example of college football in the South really being as much religion as past time.
Hey, I may be way off. If I am, please let me know in the comments. Thanks to David for the question.