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Musical Lions

Lions Clubs songbook cover from 1926.

Lions Clubs songbook cover from 1926.

Musical Lions

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Touchstone Story #98

Where can you hear a lion sing like a bird?

Lions Clubs International founder Melvin Jones said that some of the earliest club meetings could be quiet affairs until someone broke out into song.

“It seemed to me that the meetings were pretty dead until we limbered them up with song,” said Jones, who sang tenor. “Everybody talked business with his neighbor at the luncheon table, and when that subject was exhausted, he just shut up and kept his eyes on his plate. A few rounds of ‘Tipperary’ and ‘I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl’ ended all that.”

In 1926, Songs for Lions, the first official Lions Clubs International Songbook, was published. The songbook included reworked, Lions-themed lyrics to popular tunes like “Ain’t We Got Fun,” as well as an original composition called “Don’t You Hear Those Lions Roar?” with music and lyrics by Lions Joseph W. Thurston and Robert Kellogg of Hartford, Connecticut. Voices rang out in convention halls everywhere:

He makes his home in a jungle den
He feeds on meat and also men
King of beasts, he kills and preys
He’s the lord of the forest
Til he end his days.
Roaring, he bites ‘em!
Snarling, he fights ‘em!
Monarch of all he surveys.
You should hear those Lions roar
Their snarling, rumbling roar
So roar, Lions! Bite ‘em! Bite ‘em! Bite ‘em!
Don’t you hear those Lions, hear those Lions
Hear those Lions roar!

Sharing the joy of music is also part of how Lions serve. Whether it’s the Calgary Lions Club of Alberta, Canada, providing symphony tickets for students from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, or sponsorship of an annual music festival in Victoria, Texas, Lions have given their communities the gift of song throughout the years.

Lions are still known to break out in song today. To emphasize his chosen theme, Strengthening the Pride, Joe Preston of Dewey, Arizona, international president from 2014-15, told the 2014 International Convention in Toronto that “if we want to energize members, we have to touch their hearts.” Speaking about the importance of being a Lion and not merely attending meetings, Joe broke out into a song of his own composition:

Strengthen the pride through service
For causes worthy and just
Strengthen the pride through involvement
Belonging is never enough

Dig down deep
Let it go and roar like a Lion
Tell the whole world we’ll never stop tryin’

We are the Lions Clubs
We can’t be denied, no, no, no
So dig down deep and Strengthen the Pride

So, where can you hear a lion sing like a bird? It’s a bit of a trick question. The answer is, at a Lions club meeting, anywhere in the world.

Lions Clubs songbook covers from 1966.

Lions Clubs songbook covers from 1966.

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