Hagbarth Bue, a member of the Class of 1911, was interviewed in 1987 about how St. Olaf’s fight song originated. According to Bue, the 1911 class octet was practicing a Norwegian folk song, Jeg Har Ute Pulten, which was to be sung at half time during a basketball game. Due to logistics of teaching two audiences separated by a basketball court and the shortage of time, they simply substituted “Um! Yah! Yah!” for the words of the chorus.
The first published account of Um! Yah! Yah! appears in the combined 1913–14–15 Viking yearbook (p. 213, under the title Jeg Har Ute Pulten). St. Olaf is the only American college or university whose fight song is sung in 3/4, or waltz, time.