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Some Songs of Strong College

A residential college should have a vibrant musical life, and music should accompany college events throughout the year, from arrivals to holidays to strange celebrations to sad farewells at the end of the year. Strong College began to assemble a simple collection of songs that were often sung or played at college events, and the words to some of these songs appear below. Most of these songs are well-known and traditional. An advantage of traditional songs such as these is that they often lend themselves to having new local verses added, and one such example appears below.

Strong College also adopted a “composer laureate” of sorts: the early 20th-century figure Gerald Finzi (1901–1956). The choice of Finzi came about by accident when we discovered that he had set to music some of the poems of the College’s semi-humorous “poet laureate,” James Elroy Flecker (1884–1915). Finzi wrote many short settings of literary works, and by giving special attention to his music within the Strong College community we discovered a passage from Thomas Traherne (1636–1674) that became the common epigraph for all the Strong College commonplace books, as well as a poem by Walter de la Mare (1873–1956) that Finzi had beautifully set to music and which became a poem-of-the-year in the Strong College Newsletter.

Gaudeamus Igitur

“Gaudeamus Igitur” (“Let us rejoice”) is the most famous song of student life, and it has been sung at universities around the world for hundreds of years. Some of the Latin verses date from the thirteenth century, but the complete Latin and German texts, as well as the well-known tune, were first set down in the 1700s. The words have since been translated into many languages. The first verse is presented here in several translations, and a special Strong College verse is given at the end.

Latin

Gaudeamus igitur
Juvenes dum sumus;
Gaudeamus igitur
Juvenes dum sumus;
Post jucundam juventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus!
Nos habebit humus!

Czech

Radujme se tedy,
dokud jsme mladí:
radujme se tedy,
dokud jsme mladí:
po radostné mladosti,
po zalostném stárí
budeme patrit zemi,
budeme patrit zemi.

Esperanto

Ĝoju, ĝoju, ni kolegoj,
Dum ni junaj estas!
Ĝoju, ĝoju, ni kolegoj,
Dum ni junaj estas!
Post plezura estanteco,
Post malgaja maljuneco
Sole tero restas.
Sole tero restas.

Finnish

Riemuitkaamme, vielä on
suonissamme tulta!
Riemuitkaamme, vielä on
suonissamme tulta!
Jälkeen nuoruutemme armaan,
jälkeen vanhuusajan harmaan
meidät perii multa,
meidät perii multa.

German

Brüder laßt uns lustig sein,
Weil der Frühling währet
Und der Jugend Sonnenschein
Unser Laub verkläret;
Grab und Bahre warten nicht,
Wer die Rosen jetzo bricht,
Dem ist der Kranz bescheret.
Dem ist der Kranz bescheret.

Spanish

Alegrémonos pues
mientras seamos jóvenes.
Alegrémonos pues
mientras seamos jóvenes.
Tras la divertida juventud,
tras la incoómoda vejez,
nos recibirá la tierra,
nos recibirá la tierra.

English

Jubilation now abound
For companions near us!
Jubilation now resound
For our youth to cheer us!
After youth, the bold, the airy,
Age advances cautionary.
Quiet then will hold us,
Quiet earth will enfold us.

Where are they that on a time
Knew these very places?
Where the handsome pantomime
Of those former faces?
Seek them in a heavenly station,
Some at middling elevation,
All alike our missing brothers,
All alike our vanished others.

Hail to Cora’s College dear
And to all Cornelians!
Hail to all our fellows here,
And to friends lemurian!
May the Master of the Universe
Guide our lives and ever fill our purse!
Alma Mater ever nourish,
Alma Mater ever flourish!

¶ First two English verses translated by J.H. Finley; last verse for Strong College by R.J. O’Hara and J.D. Orchard.

Auld Lang Syne

One of the most famous farewell songs in any language, “Auld Lang Syne” is most often associated with the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–1796) who wrote the most well-known version of it, but the lyrics have a complicated history and some of the lines may date from the early seventeenth century.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?

Chorus:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa ha’e run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine,
We’ve wander’d many a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne.

Chorus

We twa ha’e sported i’ the burn,
Frae mornin’ sun till dine,
And seas between us braid ha’e roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

Chorus

Then here’s a hand, my trusty frien’,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Chorus

A Strong College Farewell, after “Danny Boy” (“Air from County Derry”)

The “Air from County Derry” is an Irish folk tune that was first published in 1855 in George Petrie’s Ancient Music of Ireland. The familiar “Danny Boy” lyrics were written in 1910 by Frederic Edward Weatherly, and were first used with this tune in 1912. This Strong College version was slightly altered from Weatherly’s original to correspond to local seasons and places, and was sung at the end of each academic year to the departing graduates.

O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen and down the mountainside.
The year is gone, and summer’s in the meadow.
’Tis you, ’tis you must go and we must bide.

But come ye back when autumn’s in the meadow,
Or when the fields are hushed and white with snow.
’Tis we’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
O Danny boy, O Danny boy, we love you so.

University Song

This is the university song of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, but Strong College sang it in its original form: as the song of the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina, in honor of Cornelia Strong. When the Women’s College became UNCG, the reference to “daughters” was deleted and “college” was changed to “university.”

We raise our voices, let them swell
In a chorus loud and strong;
The rolling hills send back the sound
Of our triumphant song,
For in one great unbroken band
With loyal hearts and true,
Your daughters stand, and hand in hand,
Sing, college dear, to you.

Our college days run swiftly by
And all too soon we part;
But in the years that are to come
Deep graven on each heart
Our motto “Service” will remain,
And service we will do.
And as we server our hearts will turn,
O college dear, to you.

Dear Alma Mater, strong and great,
We never shall forget
The gratitude we owe to you—
A never ending debt:
All honor to your name we give,
And love we pledge anew,
Unfailing loyalty we bring,
O college dear, to you.


© Robert J. O’Hara 2000–2016