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   The Alma Mater

Penn State's Alma Mater was written by Fred Lewis Pattee, longtime Professor of American Literature at the institution. Pattee bemoaned the fact that Penn State had no college song which would nourish college spirit and loyalty as other schools had.

He composed lyrics (see below) and published them in April 1901 Free Lance as a suggestion, inviting others to submit their own ideas. His words would be sung to the hymn "Lead Me On," (page 316 of the College Hymnal) by Cauviere, which was sung by graduating classes at Commencement. He felt it was particularly appropriate as both a school favorite and a spirited song, well suited for male voices.

The song was first sung at the Alumni Dinner in June 1901 during Commencement Week. Governor Beaver, President of the Board of Trustees, arose immediately and proclaimed it "the official song of Penn State". With President Atherton's agreement, it became so. Pattee's original version had six verses but later two were omitted and the four-verse version is accepted as the Alma Mater.

The issue of standing "at Boyhood's Gate" waiting to be "molded into men" bothered Pattee from the first. Penn State had been coed for thirty years when the song was written but Pattee felt the ethos of the school was so male oriented that the song was appropriate as written. He later had second thoughts.In his posthumously-published autobiography, he realized that the words bothered many and suggested possibly changing "boyhood" to "childhood" and "mold...into men" to a repeat of "Dear old State." In 1975, with Professor Patricia Farrell acting as a spokesperson for many who felt a change long-overdue, the Board of Trustees accepted Pattee's original suggestion in honor of International Women's Year.
The Penn State Alma Mater

by Fred Lewis Pattee

For the glory of old State,
For her founders strong and great,
For the future that we wait,
Raise the song, raise the song. 

Sing our love and loyalty,
Sing our hopes that, bright and free,
Rest, O Mother dear, with thee,
All with thee, all with thee. 


When we stood at childhood's gate,
Shapeless in the hands of fate,
Thou didst mold us, dear old State,
Dear old State, dear old State. 


May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State. 

Hear the Alma Mater sung
by the Penn State Glee Club!

Or download below:

in .wav format

in .mp3 format

Click here to download the sheet music for the Alma Mater in .pdf format