Wofford College Alma Mater
|On the city's northern border,
Reared against the sky
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
As the Years go by.
|Cherished by thy sons and daughters
Memories sweet will throng
'Round our hearts, dear Alma Mater,
As we sing thy song.
May it ever be our watchword.
"Conquer and Prevail."
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater
Dear old Wofford, hail!
|When we from thy halls are parted,
And life's battle's on,
Thy great spirit shall inspire us
Till eternal dawn.
Wofford shares the tune to its alma mater with many other institutions of higher education, including Cornell, Vanderbilt, Birmingham Southern, and the University of North Carolina. The lyrics are credited to Dr. Keener C. Frazer '20, who went on to become a distinguished professor of international law and political science at the University of North Carolina. However, the oldest version of the alma mater in print is found in 1923 Wofford Journal, with the first line "On the city's western border." This apparently was simply an editing error, as the 1925 Bohemian has the present reference to the northern border. In fact, in those days, Wofford was on the city's outskirts.
In the 1960s, many area colleges began replacing their traditional alma maters with more original tunes. A professor and student at Wofford wrote a new alma mater in 1966. This proposal never passed the Student Government Association, as it had strong opposition from the alumni, students and The Old Gold and Black.
Singing of the alma mater remains a popular tradition at Wofford. In addition to formal occasions such as convocation and commencement, the alma mater is sung when the Terriers score on the football field and at the end of every home basketball game.
Hear a recording of the Alma Mater.
Wofford College Motto
|Intaminatis fulget honoribus
Shining with untarnished honor
Virtus, replusae nexcia sordidae,
Intaminatis fulget honoribus
Nec sumit out ponit securis
Arbitrio popularis aurae.
True worth, that never know ignoble defeat,
Shines with undimmed glory,
Nor takes up nor lays aside the axes
At the fickle mob's behest.
The Wofford College motto already was in use as part of the seal of the college on a diploma dating from 1857, but existing records do not indicate precisely when it was adopted.
The motto is a quotation from Horace’s Odes (III.2.18), published around 23 BCE. The poem is a famous one, the source of the phrase dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori (“it is sweet and befitting to die for one’s country”). It would have been familiar to the classically trained faculty and students in the early days of the college’s existence. In fact, based on early course catalogs in the archives, sophomores would have read the complete poem in the original as part of the normal course of study.
Poetry, especially Horace’s, is notoriously difficult to translate faithfully into English, because poetic language implies a great deal that the literal meaning of the words may not. Often, different translations vary widely. Here are a few examples from the Sandor Teszler Library of how this phrase has been translated:
Virtus, repulsae nescia sordidae,
intaminatis fulget honoribus
True worth, that never knows ignoble defeat,
shines with undimmed glory
Manhood, that has known no disgrace in defeat,
retains its brightness, its honors untarnished