Maryland's state Senate voted Thursday to remove and replace pro-Confederate lyrics from the state's official song, "Maryland, My Maryland."

The song's lyrics were written by James Ryder Randall in 1861 after a friend of his was shot and killed while protesting Union troops who were marching through Baltimore. The song's nine verses include calls for Maryland to fight on the side of the Confederacy in the Civil War ("Virginia should not call in vain"), as well as references to "Northern scum" and President Abraham Lincoln, who is called a "despot" and a "tyrant."

The legislation comes amid an ongoing national debate over the fate of Confederate symbols in the week of last June's mass shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C.

Maryland, which is below the Mason-Dixon Line, was a slave state with strong southern sympathies, but nevertheless refused to secede from the Union.

The song is set to the traditional seasonal tune of "O, Tannenbaum." It was adopted as the state song in 1939.

"The [song] is degrading to Maryland and should not represent us moving forward," said Democratic state Sen. Ron Young, the bill's sponsor. 

Republican state Sen. Robert Cassilly said the song should be used as "a teaching point" about the state's history.

"The idea of excising our history, that’s not America," Cassilly said, according to the Washington Post. 

The paper reported that the controversial lyrics would be replaced by a verse from an 1894 poem describing the state's natural beauty. The bill now goes to the state's House of Delegates for consideration. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from The Washington Post.