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In the Old Days, We Would Sing

Hovey.jpgThe sweetest moment at today’s football victory was when the team, coaches and students gathered together in a great mass in the center of Memorial Field and sang the alma mater. Dartmouth crowds sing well — Joan Baez commented on it once when we sang Amazing Grace together in Thompson Arena — and today was no exception. You could hear the words clearly, and feel deep down that the players did not have it in them to sing any louder than they did. They gave everything. We should all hope that today will be the first of further victories.

In my day as a student, any success for a team, or for that matter any happy occasion, was a good excuse to link arms and sing Men of Dartmouth (men and women both). We would sway back and forth, and through our singing we would turn an individual team’s win into a triumph for the school and for us all.

However, when my family and I returned to Hanover from France in 2004, I recall watching a sudden-death overtime hockey victory — over Harvard no less — that occasioned a great roar from the crowd and then… nothing. I felt my singing reflex kick in, but the crowd just filed out of Thompson.

It has since been explained to me that in the late ’80s, when there was controversy over the, ugh, inclusiveness of the alma mater’s lyrics, singing became a political statement, and as a result went out of fashion. A loss, to my mind, for everyone.

I hope that today’s football a capella showed the Dartmouth community what a wonderful shared emotion singing the alma mater can be. It would be nice if the College could sing again.

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