Q. Does AU have a university hymn?

Answered By: Kathryn Ray
Last Updated: Mar 08, 2017     Views: 23

There appears to have been more than one American University hymn.  Samuel MacWatters wrote one in 1917. Both the words and the score are in the University Archives.  Albert Osborn's papers contain a document entitled "University Hymn" which was dedicated to Bishop John F. Hurst, American University's founder. It is likely that this hymn predates the MacWatters hymn as Bishop Hurst died in 1903.  

This hymn was attributed to Albert Osborn but the document itself doesn't specify authorship or date.  There is no score in the Archives, only a text version. In the transcription that appears below,  all punctuation, capitalization, formatting and spelling are as in the original text.

University Hymn
(Dedicated to Bishop John F. Hurst)

O God at Whose supreme command
  Chaos and darkness take their flight,
Help us fulfil, as Thy right hand,
  Thy primal-law,  - - "Let there be light!"

Where Freedom's chosen city stands,
  Upon its overlooking hight (sic),
We set a beacon for our land:- -
  Aflame with Thee, "Let there be light!"

The glory of Thy westward hills
  With nation's shaft and dome unite,
Declaring the consenting wills
  Of God and man - - "Let there be light!"

Let learning's lamp be kindled here
  From Faith's fair altar, ever bright
With wisdom founded in Thy fear:
  O'er all the world, "Let there be light!"


Answer supplied by the
University Archivist
American University Library