Back to Cornell for today’s Top 200 Photo.
This is Cornell’s famous clock tower and the attached Uris Library. The clock tower is called McGraw Hall. I knew that at some point in my freshman year, but pretty much everyone just calls it the clock tower. It houses chimes that are played throughout the day. Every quarter hour it’s the usual chimes that every clock tower plays. About four times a day they play a few songs. At least once a day they’d play our Alma Mater. I loved hearing that when I walked through campus. It almost always brightened my spirits and made me feel happy to be a student there. Also every day (or nearly every day) they played the evening song at 1800. At one chimes concert I attended they cheekily said that it “resembles Oh Christmas Tree”. No, it IS “Oh Christmas Tree”. But they invented these songs back before copyright. For example, I learned that something like four other schools have the exact same Alma Mater song as ours. And I think that it, like The Star Spangled Banner, also was originally a drinking song. According to Wikipedia (caveats about the accuracy of Wikipedia apply), our Alma Mater, “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters” is “set to the tune of “Annie Lisle”, a popular 1857 ballad by H. S. Thompson about a heroine dying of tuberculosis.” Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Alma Mater “theft”:
“The tune has been adopted since by dozens of universities, colleges, high schools, and camps worldwide. For example, Professor George Penny of the University of Kansas wrote his school’s alma mater by changing a few words from Cornell’s song (“Far above the golden valley…”). Other colleges and universities that have borrowed the song include the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse, the College of William and Mary, the Colorado State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Syracuse University, the University of Missouri, the University of Georgia, the University of Alabama, Indiana University, Wofford College, Ripon College, Birmingham-Southern College, Emory University, Erskine College, Lehigh University, Lewis & Clark College, Moravian College, Xavier University, Acadia University, Salem College, Swarthmore College, Vanderbilt University, the American University of Beirut, and even the fictional Plainfield Teacher’s College.”