A Rousing Song

“Duh duh duh, duh-duh-duh duh duh duh, duh-duh-duh DAH, duh duh duh…”

As some may recognize, the Choate School Song begins with the above intro line (which unfortunately loses some of its charm in writing…). Anyone who has been at Choate for more than a few months probably already has the School Song ingrained into his or her brain. From the majestic lyrics to the upbeat tune to the perfectly timed fist pump, the song is a bundle of optimism that re-energizes students and faculty after the end of a long and tedious (er, I mean delightful) all-school event.

The School Song was written and composed by former Choate faculty member Mr. Guy E. Moulton. During his time at Choate (1910-28), he taught Latin and French, coached golf, and played in the Choate Orchestra. The chorus of the School Song (starting with “Cheer, then, for Choate!”) first appeared in the 1913 issue of The Brief as a poem written by Mr. Moulton entitled “To Choate.” Also that year, he wrote the rest of the lyrics and the tune, and the song was published in 1916. 

Naturally, when Rosemary Hall joined the Choate School in 1971, debate arose over which school’s song they would use. Rosemary Hall’s seemed out of the question, as it was written entirely in Latin and pertained specifically to the Rosemary Hall girls. They briefly contemplated creating a new song altogether that would more accurately represent the culture of the combined school, but they were unable to find one that everyone would agree on. As a result of these discussions, during the 1970s and 80s, the School Song was not sung. When it was revived in the 90s, the song was almost exactly the same as the original song written by Mr. Moulton, with two lyrical changes. In the line “Far thro’ the land her sons shall bear her great fame,” “her sons” was changed to “we all,” and likewise for “Ever thy sons sing to thee.” 

Regarding the lyrics, perhaps the most iconic phrase is in the opening line: “To our school upon the hillside.” As any student who has to trek up and down the campus will know, Choate is indeed very hilly. However, when Mr. Moulton wrote these words in 1913, they had an even more exact meaning. At the time, the only non-residential building on Choate’s campus was Hill House, which, as the name implies, is directly atop the hill. Thus, at the time, Choate was literally a “school upon the hillside.” Another Choate-specific line, “Forever true to Gold and Blue,” references the two Choate school colors, which were already established at the time the song was written.

History aside, current students and faculty have mixed feelings about the song. On one hand, it serves its general purpose well. Ms. Courtney DeStefano says, “[The song] is a big part of being at Choate, whether you are a student or faculty.” She added, “I like the feeling it creates—it’s energetic and up-tempo.” Others echo this sentiment. However, positivity can often be overdone: as Kristen Andonie ’17 put it, “While the melody and the act of singing conveys a sense of unity, the lyrics don’t seem to accurately reflect the Choate culture.” Perhaps the next you sing the song, try and ask yourself, what do those words really mean to you?

*Thank you to Ms. Judy Donald, the school’s archivist, for helping to collect information for this article.

3 Comments

  1. What a neat story. Seems like every school I’ve attended has a song like this.

  2. Well, Great article. Thank you for this kind of article.

  3. Very Good post”Jessica”. Thanks for this.

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