Category Archives: Emory people

Alma Mater, second verse

J. Marvin Rast 18C 29T earned his place among the 175 “Makers of Emory History” by composing the Emory Alma Mater in the spring of his senior year. The newly formed Glee Club gave the song its premiere at a concert at Covington High School, then road-tested it on tour to shake out any bugs before Commencement. It withstood the test, but a few bugs remained.

For one thing, within a few years the line “loyal sons and true” would leave out a sizeable number of “daughters.” The year before Rast’s creation, Eléonore Raoul had enrolled in the law school, the first female student in the university’s history and the harbinger of what would become a growing distaff proportion of the student body.

 

Raoul
Eléonore Raoul — not one of the “loyal sons and true.”

In fact by 1945 the line had become embarrassing, as women were graduating from every school of the university. That year the Commencement program for the college and the graduate school included the Alma Mater with the original line. Perhaps because of complaints from graduating female students, two weeks later, on June 16, the line had been changed for the Commencement ceremony for medical school grads and those finishing the Navy’s V-12 program. The line now read, “sons and daughters true”– allegedly by fiat from the university president, who was Goodrich White ’08.

Alma Mater 1981
Alma Mater with chorus as revised in 1945

 

Things became more complicated still. Later in life Rast, who became a Methodist minister after graduation, recounted that in 1960 he was seated at a conference with an Emory alumna who surprised him by questioning the first line of the Alma Mater. In the wake of the civil rights movement, she asked, would he begin the same –“in the heart of dear old Dixie”?

In 1976 (having thought about it a long time!), Rast wrote to the alumni secretary, Walt Davis 34C, to suggest a change in the first two lines. How about something less regional and more high-falutin’?

Rast suggested: Where thy classic halls of learning/ Gleam ’mid oak and pine. He also threw in an additional stanza.

Alma Mater 1976Further correspondence ensued, and by 1981 the suggested changes had made their way to the University Committee on Academic Ceremonies. This august body was chaired by medieval historian George Peddy Cuttino, Oxonian, who, before retiring in 1984, left an indelible stamp on the ceremonies and heraldry of Emory. His committee rejected the proposed changes.

Commencement on June 2, 1977, was the last Commencement graced by the Alma Mater for more than a quarter of a century. In November 1977 James Laney was inaugurated as the university’s president, and, no fan of the Alma Mater, he had it deleted from Commencement programs during his presidency (1977-93).

“I didn’t think it was worthy of a great university,” Laney remarked to an Emory Wheel reporter decades later. “It was cliché.”

The song’s absence from Commencement continued for more than another decade after the end of Laney’s presidency. But in the meantime it would find a revival through the curiosity of a new a cappella group — No Strings Attached.

More about that revival next time.

Gary Hauk

Thanks to Melissa Cheung o4C o6PH, former senior editor of the “Emory Wheel,” whose article in the February 10, 2004, issue of the paper includes the quotation from Jim Laney and the story of Marvin Rast’s encounter at the Methodist conference.

 

 

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Alma Mater, to thee we sing

It graces every Commencement ceremony. It closes every Legacy Brunch. It rings from the bell tower on Cox Hall every day at noon. It is both the most familiar tune and the least-known song on the Emory campus. Everyone can hum it, but most are grateful for the lyrics printed in their programs. It is the Emory Alma Mater.

Alma mater — Latin words meaning nourishing or kind or bounteous mother. The phrase harks back to the founding, in 1088, of the first university in the West, the University of Bologna, whose official name is Alma Mater Studiorum Universita di Bologna.

We know these words to signify something more particular–a university’s signature song. An alma mater’s lyrics often strain to fit rhyme to meter, and the sentiment usually verges on treacle. Frequently the tune is one familiar to thousands who may never even have heard of the institution that the alma mater salutes. That tune is “Annie Lisle,” and it is the tune of hundreds of alma maters for high schools, colleges, and universities around the country–and even in China.

Published in 1857, the original ballad sang of a young woman, “pure as the forest lily,” who, as she lies dying, hears the sound of angels singing and whispers to her mother, “God is love.” Did I say treacle?

Two Cornell University undergraduates claimed the tune first, around 1870, for the setting of “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters.” Many other balladeers followed, but it took until 1918 for someone to recognize that “Annie Lisle” could also accommodate a hymn to the bounteous mother named Emory.

Marvin Rast, hailing from Louisville, Georgia, was a campus leader elected to membership in the DVS Senior Society.

J. Marvin Rast 18C 29T
J. Marvin Rast, in the 1918 Emory Campus

He also sang in the Emory Glee Club. In the spring of Rast’s senior year, the glee club director, Professor Christian Hamff, lamented the absence of a song about Emory for the season’s final concert.

Christian Frederick Hamff, M.A.
Christian Frederick Hamff, Professor of Modern Languages and Director of the Glee Club

Stirred to action, Rast went back to his dormitory room and composed two verses and a chorus. The tune, of course, was “Annie Lisle.”

In the heart of dear old Dixie, / Where the sun doth shine,

That is where our hearts are turning, / ‘Round Old Em’ry’s shrine.

CHORUS

We will ever sing thy praises, / Loyal sons and true.

Hail we now our Alma Mater, / Hail the Gold and Blue.

Though the years around thee gather / Crowned with love and cheer,

Still the mem’ry of Old Em’ry / Grows to us more dear.

REPEAT CHORUS

Thus the Emory Alma Mater was born. Performed at Commencement in 1918, it took hold.

But it had several problems. To begin with, there were those lines in the chorus, “We will ever sing thy praises, loyal sons and true.” What about the women, who had begun enrolling at Emory’s Atlanta campus in 1917?

And why those apostrophes in “memory” and “Emory”?

And what did it mean that the years would “gather ’round” Alma Mater? Were we supposed to see the college personified as a grandmotherly figure shedding benign smiles on younger generations?

And finally, what about that word “Dixie”?

I’ll say more about revisions to the Alma Mater in the next post.

Gary Hauk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L.Q.C. Lamar and Henry Adams

It’s exhilarating to stumble upon unexpected relationships. Reading The Education of Henry Adams on New Year’s Day, I found a surprising Emory connection in this memoir by a consummate Boston Yankee.

Great-grandson of John, grandson of John Quincy, and son of Lincoln’s minister to Great Britain, Henry Adams rose to his own heights of achievement and renown as a journalist, historian, and memoirist.

Henry Adams, photo by Marian Hooper Adams, courtesy of Massachusetts Historial Society
Henry Adams. Photo by Marian Hooper Adams. Courtesy of Massachusetts Historical Society.

Boston-born, Harvard-educated, he made Washington, DC, his home for the last half of his long life. His mansion at Lafayette Square, now the site of the Hay-Adams Hotel, was a social gathering place for the most eminent intellectuals of his day.

During the Civil War, the young Adams served in London as private secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, whose job it was to keep the British from recognizing the Confederacy. While there, Henry briefly met a man whom he would get to know well in Washington after the war — L. Q. C. Lamar, Emory College class of 1845.

LQC Lamar
Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, 1845C. Photo by Matthew Brady. Library of Congress.

Georgian by birth, Lamar served as a Congressman from Mississippi before the Civil War but resigned when Mississippi seceded. The Confederate government sent him abroad as minister to Russia, with a brief stay in London. After the war and amnesty, Lamar again served in Congress. (See Emory Makers of History.)

Lamar’s defense of secession and slavery before the war is indefensible. His reputation now rests on his post-war efforts toward reconciliation between North and South and on his integrity at the risk of his political career (he is the only Deep Southerner profiled in JFK’s Profiles in Courage).

Henry Adams, writing in 1907, had this to say about Lamar, who died in 1893: He “had grown to be one of the calmest, most reasonable and most amiable Union men in the United States, and quite unusual in social charm. In 1860 he passed for the worst of Southern fire-eaters, but he was an eccentric by environment, not by nature; above all his Southern eccentricities, he had tact and humor. . . . He would have done better in London [than the Confederacy’s actual minister to Britain]. . . . London society would have delighted in him; his stories would have won success; his manners would have made him loved; his oratory would have swept every audience; even [those unsympathetic to the Confederacy] could never have resisted the temptation of having him to breakfast between Lord Shaftesbury and the Bishop of Oxford” (from Chapter XII).

It would have been fascinating indeed to hear these two — one a former slave owner, the other an ardent slavery-hater, both of the highest intelligence and mutual respect — in dinner conversation at Lafayette Square circa 1885.

 

Love at first photo op

Dateline: Church School Building Fellowship Hall, April 12, 1956 —

The four years in Emory College had challenged Clint Rodgers, but he had done well. Emory’s Air Force ROTC had prepared him for a career flying jets. His major in Spanish had satisfied his delight in language. So here he was, weeks away from picking up his diploma at the Emory Commencement exercises in the Church School Amphitheater.

Meanwhile, there was work to do in the Language Lab, in old Fishburne Hall (where the Goizueta Business School now stands). He tutored students, set up instruction tapes, and plied his expertise in Spanish. Leaving the lab one April day, he turned to make his way to the Church School Building. There, Emory faculty would mingle with the best language students from each Atlanta-area high school, who had been invited to “Language Day” to learn  more about the university.

As he set out, Clint encountered two young women who were lost. Did he know where the Language Day program was being held? Why, yes he did, and he was headed that way himself. He’d be happy to accompany them.

One of those young women was Susan Russell, a student at Girls’ High School in Atlanta. Clint and Susan sat together at the program, and a friendship bloomed. Then a romance. And then marriage. After her freshman year at Emory–during which Clint worked while awaiting an Air Force commission–they tied the knot and headed to Lackland Air Force Base for their honeymoon.

But it all began at Language Day.

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Language Day, April 12, 1956. Clint Rodgers and Susan Russell are shown in circle. Judson C. “Jake” Ward, then dean of Emory College, is seated fifth from the left in front. This room, in the Church School Building, is now named for Ward, who taught Sunday School there for 50 years.

 

 

 

Asa Candler’s NON-million-dollar letter

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Asa Griggs Candler Sr.

Many Emory people know of the “million-dollar letter” written by Asa Griggs Candler Sr. on July 16, 1914, to the Educational Commission of the Southern Methodist Church.

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That was the spur to planting Emory University in Atlanta and eventually moving Emory College from its home in Oxford. Less well known are the hundreds of other Candler letters deposited in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory.

Candler was a great letter writer — great not only in the volume of personal and business-related missives he penned but also in the candor of his messages. As he aged, his penmanship deteriorated, looking as if every line was dashed off in a frenzy to keep up with his thoughts. But the first letter we have from him shows something else.

Candler letter to Griggs

Written to Candler’s namesake–Dr. Asa Griggs, of West Point, Georgia–the letter presents the young Candler, age 21, looking for better prospects. Having considered a career in medicine, he opted instead for pharmacy. “The country has enough [doctors] without they [the country] were better. Besides I think there is more money to be made as a druggist than as a physician.”

Having secured a position in Cartersville, Georgia, where he had spent two years learning the business, Candler now was ready for greater things. Was it possible, he wondered, that the physician for whom he was named, and who was “so widely known both professionally & socially,” might open a door or two for him? “I am not particular about the place,—where it is—will go to any place where I can do well.”

No evidence exists that Dr. Griggs responded to the young Asa, but within a year Candler had made his way to Atlanta, knocked on several doors, and landed a job assisting pharmacist John Howard. He also met Howard’s daughter, Lucy, who would become Asa’s wife. Fifteen years later he would buy controlling rights to John Pemberton’s recipe for Coca-Cola.

Gary Hauk