From Ask Abe, courtesy of WAA's ONline WISCONSIN™:
Tom Lindahl '60 asks Abe: "What is the history and origin of 'Varsity'? I believe it is one of the best school songs in the country."
ANSWER: Badgers have sung "Varsity" for more than a century. The song was adapted from a Latin hymn entitled "Domine Salvam Fac," written by French composer Charles Gounod. Henry Dyke Sleeper, a young instructor in the College of Letters and Science's School of Music, published a new version of the hymn he called "Varsity Toast" in 1898. Former Wisconsin Band Director Ray Dvorak introduced the now-famous arm swinging in 1934, making any performance of "Varsity" a sight to behold. Many UW graduates fondly remember these lyrics:Varsity! Varsity!
Praise to thee we sing!
Praise to thee, our Alma Mater,