The University of Alabama alma mater a forgotten, yet ‘timeless tradition’

Ashanka Kumari

As most UA students know, this year’s Homecoming theme was “Timeless Traditions.” From the parade to the thousands of football fans in crimson, white and houndstooth filling Bryant-Denny Stadium, traditions were definitely apparent. However, some traditions continue to overshadow ones that should receive more attention.

Although I have lived in Alabama since I was 9 years old, I still don’t know everything about the state and its history. When I was first accepted to The University of Alabama, I realized I knew nothing about the school, besides the information about its programs and the name Nick Saban.

I began looking into the traditions and customs of the University after I decided I would be attending. I learned the words to the fight song, “Yea, Alabama!” and eventually even how to play the music on trombone. I learned what Denny Chimes was, some history about Alabama football and that “Roll Tide” was an appropriate phrase for dozens upon dozens of situations.

After a month at the Capstone, I had learned even more. At this point, I could locate several buildings and knew the best place to get lunch on campus. However, one of the most important things I had learned about the University was the words to the alma mater.

Almost every major institution has an alma mater, a piece of music written for and about the University, often to the tune of an older piece of music. For example, Texas A&M’s is to the theme from the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, also known as “Ode to Joy.” Ours is to the tune of H.S. Thompson’s ballad, “Annie Lisle.”

“Alabama, listen mother, to our vows of love.

To thyself and to each other, faithful friends we’ll prove.

Faithful, loyal, firm and true, heart bound to heart will beat.

Year by year, the ages through, until in heav’n we meet.”

The words normally echo some type of promise and love for the school. The song usually has several verses, though only the first, like with our National Anthem, is ever used.

During the homecoming pep rally, when the band played the fight song, it seemed as though almost every person in the large crowd clapped and sang along. There was not the same reaction when the alma mater was played. Although our fight song is important in showcasing our pride for our teams, the school song should be treated equally or with even more importance.

Watching students, representatives and even administrators who proudly chanted our fight song stand in complete silence during the alma mater was somewhat embarrassing. Shouldn’t we treat the song that truly represents our University with more care?

At Oklahoma State University, regardless of whether or not the team wins, OSU’s athletes turn to face the student section and sing their alma mater with the students, faculty, alumni and staff in the stands. Similarly, the Million Dollar Band at our University sings our alma mater at the end of each game, although most of the fans are gone by this point. What if the entire student body joined in?

At Louisiana State University, not only does the entire student body, band, alumni and faculty sing their alma mater at each football game, their Memorial Tower (similar to Denny Chimes at UA) plays the tune of their alma mater at noon each day. The words to their alma mater are also displayed on the scrolls in their football stadium so that students can sing along and proudly display their love for their school, which they do collectively at each game.

The University of Alabama should consider employing similar tactics to teach our student body the words to our school song. It would not take much effort to add the words to a graphic display in Bryant-Denny Stadium each week or to even make it so Denny Chimes plays the tune at regular intervals throughout each week, instead of on scattered occasions. If students, faculty, staff and alumni really love and care about our University as much as they claim they do on game days, they should take the time to learn and sing the four lines of lyrics written to showcase this love.

Ashanka Kumari is the chief copy editor of The Crimson White.