The University of Washington Huskies have a new song. Part hymn, part anthem, "Rise Up With Pride for Washington" is the winner in the UW's "Song of Washington" lyrics contest. UW senior Catherine Henderson, a humanities major, wrote the words, beating out nearly 400 submissions. Bill Conti, the film composer known for the themes for...

The Huskies have a new song.

Part hymn, part anthem, “Rise Up With Pride for Washington” is the winner in the UW’s “Song of Washington” lyrics contest.

UW senior Catherine Henderson, a humanities major, wrote the words, beating out nearly 400 submissions. Bill Conti, the film composer known for his themes for “The Right Stuff” and “Rocky,” wrote the music.

The new song was played publicly for the first time Friday, at a gala celebrating the end of the UW’s $2.5 billion “Creating Futures” fundraising campaign, but it will be unveiled to the public at the Nov. 8 Arizona State football game.

The song won’t replace the 1915-era fight song, “Bow Down to Washington,” or any other song, for that matter, said Sue Brockmann, director of marketing for the UW Alumni Association, but it will be a long-overdue update to the school’s repertoire.

“It’s a heartfelt theme, and I think it reflects the experiences of the students,” she said.

Henderson is in her last quarter at the UW, having gone back to school part time after her three children, including two UW alumni, left home.

The guitar-playing grandmother has her own band, Quarter Past 8, and she works part time at a dental office in Shoreline while going to school at night. Writing lyrics has been a hobby since she started playing actively about seven years ago.

“I’m always looking for reasons to write a song,” she said, “with a myriad of napkins” covered in lyrics as proof.

“There’s always something in the back of my head, even if I’m not aware of it.”

Henderson heard about the contest in May from a story in The Seattle Times. After a visit to the UW’s Suzzallo Library reading room, with its towering neo-Gothic architecture, Henderson felt inspired. It didn’t hurt that this self-described romantic was taking courses on the sociology of religion and Arthurian legends.

“Reading that sort of high-caliber literature, all those things aligned in just the right way, [and it was] the perfect storm,” she said.

With two verses and a chorus, the song is designed to evoke feelings of being part of something larger than yourself, “a hymn that is supposed to make you feel closer and more part of the school.”

As part of its unveiling, Conti will be present as the Husky Marching Band performs the song at halftime during the Nov. 8 game, sandwiched between selections from the scores for “The Right Stuff” and “Rocky.”

Brad McDavid, the director of Husky Athletic Bands, said reaction to the new song has been positive so far. “We’re just thrilled to be performing it,” he said. “I think it was just a great way for it to end, for a current UW student to win it.”

As for Henderson, she’s just happy to have had the chance to go back to school and to her passion, music.

“It’s like the culmination of memories and feelings,” she said. “Even if I hadn’t won, this would have summed up my experience. You don’t have to have the cherry to appreciate the banana split, but it makes it more special.”

Will Mari: 206-464- 2745 or wmari@seattletimes.com