Faculty Set to Change the Alma Mater

by Jac Bergenson

Mount Saint Mary College alumni will soon sing to a different tune. The alma mater, performed by students and alumni at academic ceremonies, is due for a change.  Written decades ago, it has long stood against the test of time. But now, the Mount’s growth has made it necessary to revisit and revise the old song. Mount Messenger spoke with Dr. Durward Entrekin, Professor of Music, on Thursday afternoon, to share his thoughts.

The need for change became apparent at the end of the 2011-2012 academic year. At one of the school’s last ceremonies, “Father Kevin had become so aware that nobody was singing our alma mater [that] he came to me and said ‘Would you be willing to find a new tune to sing it to?’” explains Dr. Etrekin.

He went further to explain the significance of the text and tune of the song. The text, which had been written by Senior Professor Dr. James Cotter, still forms the basis of the song.  Rather than write a completely new song, the faculty decided to retain the words, but change the tune.

After cycling through a variety of tunes, Dr. Entrekin found the perfect match with Ellacombe, long associated with the hymn, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.”  Ellacombe is a powerful and uplifting tune, and is sure to associate the alma mater with cheerful feelings.  Dr. Entrekin believes the power of Ellacombe will make the alma mater more memorable.

The alma mater lacks visibility, and the music department hopes that the change will make it a larger part of the student body’s lives. Acknowledging that the old tune had become “rather tepid,” Dr. Entrekin further explained that the new song will be sung with more enthusiasm, and that the request to change the tune was “not unwarranted.”

Those who fear the song will change too drastically need not fear, as Professor Cotter’s words will remain at the core of the song. Cotter reworked some of the lines so that the “stress of the words would stress the flow of the music, would flow more smoothly.” But the verses will remain the same that alumni remember and love.

Dr. Entrekin shrugged off the notion of unexpected response to the change. “I’m very positive that whatever happens, we’ll be able to find something that does work, that people can sing.”

The faculty plans to address the change on Tuesday, September 25th, at the general faculty meeting.  The alma mater is first on their agenda and if all goes according to plan, we might see the new song rolling out sooner than later.

Look to the next issue of the Mount Messenger for more information on the alma mater and other topics discussed at the faculty meeting.