What is True Maroon?

2008-2009 - “Maroon & White” is True Maroon

Maroon and White Lyrics

The Alma Mater of Mississippi State University

In the heart of Mississippi
Made by none but God’s own hands
Stately in her nat’ral splendor
Our Alma Mater proudly stands.
State College of Mississippi,
Fondest mem’ries cling to thee.
Life shall hoard thy spirit ever,
Loyal sons we’ll always be.

Chorus:
Maroon and White! Maroon and White!
Of thee with joy we sing.
Thy colors bright, our souls delight,
With praise our voices ring.

Tho’ our life some pow’r may vanquish,
Loyalty can’t be o’er run;
Honors true on thee we lavish
Until the setting of the sun;
Live Maroon and White forever,
Ne’er can evil mar thy fame,
Nothing us from thee can sever,
Alma Mater we acclaim.

A History of The Alma Mater:

Quite an “Evolution” Behind Mississippi State Alma Mater

By: Dudley Lacey – October 15, 1953 Indianola Enterprise

Scott Field

STATE COLLEGE, Miss. – “In the heart of Mississippi, made by none but God’s own hands, stately in her natural splendor, our alma mater proudly stands.”

What is behind the words and music of Mississippi State College’s Alma Mater, “Maroon and White”?

There’s quite a history – or evolution – leading up to State’s present Alma Mater - an evolution worth recording.

In a recent interview, Prof. Henry E. Wamsley, composer of the music to “Maroon and White” and associate director of the Maroon Band, revealed that “Maroon and White” is no less than the third Alma Mater to be recognized at Mississippi State, though it is the first to be officially adopted.

In the early part of this century, students of Mississippi A. & M., as State was then known, were inspired by a specially adapted version of the “Washington and Lee Swing” with words suitable for a college song.

In 1919, Nathan “Ned” Berry, class of ’21, took a French barroom song, “Madelon,” put new words to it, and came out with “We’re Behind You,” which quickly replaced the version of the “Washington and Lee Swing” as the recognized Alma Mater. “Madelon” was extremely popular during World War I, and Prof. Wamsley recalls playing it his first time as assistant director of an Army band in France. State’s new fight song, “On Maroons” with words by the head cheerleader, Jimmy Hayden, is written to the tune of “Madelon.”

Pom Squad with STATE flags

Although “We’re Behind You” was a stirring Alma Mater, it was designed and written as a football fight song and was quite inappropriate for anything else, even for other sports. Thus, in 1929 a contest was sponsored by the Student Association to choose either new words to “Madelon” or a completely new song as an Alma Mater. There were so few entries that the contest had to be held open through the spring of 1930.

It was at this time that “Maroon and White” came to the front as a favorite for the new Alma Mater. “Maroon and White” was not written, however, as an entrant in the contest. The words were written in 1921 as a class poem by Dr. T. Paul Haney, who is now the director of the Tulsa City Health Department, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The poem was so well liked and so often repeated that in the late twenties Prof. Wamsley conceived the idea of putting it to music, which he did.

As originally composed, the tune was in the march time, but when it was being considered as a possible Alma Mater, Prof. Wamsley changed the tempo to a fitting song style. At that time Captain and Mrs. T. M. Cornell were directing the A. & M. Glee Club, and boosted the new song consistently through listing it on all their programs.

Football Fans

I“Maroon and White” gained popularity and with the support of the Reflector was selected by the students on April 9, 1930, as the new Alma Mater. The vote of 718-241 favoring “Maroon and White” over “Madelon” was polled in questionnaire form, but later that year the adoption was made official. Prof. Wamsley and Dr. Haney copyrighted the song so that the individuality of A. & M.’s Alma Mater might be retained.

An interesting development occurred when Mississippi A. & M. had its name changed to Mississippi State College in 1932. The change necessitated a slight rewording of the Alma Mater, but Dr. Haney came through in fine style. According to Prof. Wamsley, who directed the Maroon Band to its fame, Dr. Haney reworded the song without losing any of its original beauty, and possibly enhanced it.

So, today, Mississippi State College has something few colleges can boast –a totally individual Alma Mater that will compare with any in beauty and style.

Article Courtesy of University Archives