Harvard University announced last week a pair of competitions to update the lyrics of its alma mater and create a hip alternative in line with modern sensibilities.
The school’s Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging plans to change the final line of “Fair Harvard,” which was first written in 1836.
“Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love/Till the stock of the Puritans die,” the current version reads, referencing founder and Puritan minister John Harvard.
The new line will be chosen by a competition open to all students and faculty. The winning lyrics will be picked by the committee, which was convened in September to “[evaluate] Harvard’s efforts to create an inclusive environment and recommend improvements,” according to the school’s daily student newspaper, the Harvard Crimson.
In addition, a competition will be held to create a modern alternative version of the alma mater.
“The goal is to affirm what is valuable from the past while also re-inventing that past to meet and speak to the present moment,”the task force website reads. “The inspiration is Hamilton. The point is to use your imagination.”
Proposed genres include electronic and hip-hop music.
The lyric change in particular has been panned by the Crimson.
“As anachronistic as the lyric may seem, this adjustment does very little to address the real concerns many students have about belonging at Harvard,” the paper’s editorial board wrote. “We fail to see how this proposed change will be significant to the mission of the task force and the university at large.”
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