Alma Mater Songs

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Cover of the Original Vocal Score

Note the misspelling of McLean's name

Guardian of Truth

Thomas J. McLean, 1920

Though Thomas J. McLean's lyrics won second place in the 1920 Alma Mater Song Competition, it is his song, "Guardian of Truth," that Catholic University has used at official events into the twenty-first century. McLean was a student at the Sulpician Monastery when he wrote the music and lyrics. The University's Glee Club, founded in 1921 and directed by the German language professor Dr. Leo Behrendt, made the song popular as they performed it on campus, around town, on tours, and on the radio (both national and international). They found McLean's song to be more suitable for men's voices, and it just caught on. Click here to learn more.

Listen (1962 Recording)

Audio from the 1962 LP CU in Song with the Chaplain's Choir directed by Daniel "Skip" Tomaselli

Listen (Original 1920 Voice and Piano)

View Original Historic Version (PDF) - Voice and Piano, 1920

Listen (Meyers ca. 1960s Voice and Piano Arrangement)

View Score (PDF)

Listen (Reagan 1976 Voice and Piano Arrangement)

View Score (PDF)

Listen (Santos 1964 SATB Arrangement)

View Score (PDF)

Listen (Mondereau 1921 Dance Band Arrangement)

Performed by the cast of "Songs of Old CUA" with the Flying Cardinals Dance Band (Kyle English, conductor)

View Score (PDF)

Listen (Ricks ca. 1960s Orchestral Arrangement)

View Score (PDF)

Listen (Reagan 1976 Wind Band Arrangement)

View Score (PDF)

Listen (Garofalo 1970s Brass Quintet/Quartet Arrangement)

Origins of audio unknown.

View Score (PDF)


Cover of the Original Vocal Score

Hail CUA!

Victor Herbert (music) and Robert Mahoney (lyrics), 1920

The famous and popular operetta composer Victor Herbert was asked by a committee of students (headed by John Joseph Relihan) if he would compose music for an alma mater song for The Catholic University of America. He agreed, noting that he was not Catholic but would be happy to donate a song anyway. The lyrics by CUA student Robert Mahoney (Class of 1920) were awarded first place by the panel of faculty judges. Herbert was sent the lyrics of both the first- and second-place winners (Mahoney and Thomas J. McLean) and concurred that Mahoney's lyrics were more suitable. Despite the first-place win and the fame of the composer, "Hail CUA!" did not catch on and has only rarely been heard on the CUA campus. Click here to learn more.

Listen (1962 Recording)

Audio from the 1962 LP CU in Song with the Chaplain's Choir directed by Daniel "Skip" Tomaselli

View Official Version (PDF) - lyrics revised 2011

View Historic Version (PDF) - 1920

Alma Mater

Donald J. Reagan, 1976

Not much is known about the reason this song was written. In the mid 1970's, professor and then wind ensemble director Dr. Robert Garofalo asked Reagan to arrange Guardian of Truth for winds. In a letter accompanying the score and parts, Reagan apologizes for what he considered to be flaws in his arrangement, blaming a lack of time which prevented him from doing the job to his full satisfaction. Included with the letter, without mention, was a copy of this song. It lacks words and most likely never had any.

In a recent interview, Dr. Garofalo suggested a possible reason for this work. In 1977, a decision was made that the orchestra was no longer to play at graduation, but rather the wind ensemble. There was no band arrangement of "Guardian of Truth," so Dr. Garofalo asked Reagan, his close friend and a composer, to arrange the piece for winds. Though Dr. Garofalo has professed admiration for the McLean composition, he suggests that they may have discussed the idea of providing a new alma mater song to replace the McLean composition.

Listen (MIDI):

View Score (PDF) - 1976

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Alma Mater Song of The Catholic University School of Nursing Education

Dr. Leo A. Behrendt (music) and Frances Fitch (lyrics), ca. 1942

This piece was unearthed just in time for the nursing school's 75th anniversary. It was composed by Behrendt, founder and conductor of the original Glee Club. Fitch (class of 1943), a nursing student, wrote the lyrics.

On the Christmas concert of December 13, 1942, the Glee Club of the School of Nursing [also called, often in the same article, the Glee Club of the School of Nursing Education, Nurses Glee Club, Nurses' Glee Club, Nurse Glee Club, Women's Glee Club, Women's Glee Club of the School of Nursing Education, and Girls' Glee Club], under the direction of Dr. Leo Behrendt, held their first concert. The Tower article of Thursday, Dec. 10, 1942, states: "In addition to the 12 selections to be offered by the Glee Club, there will be a violin solo by Miss Mary Mulcahy, vocal selections by Miss Frances Fitch and Miss Cecelia Schruender, and a piano selection by Miss Palma Zizzi."

It is likely that this alma mater song was presented on this first concert in 1942, since The Tower lists the full programs for the spring and Christmas concerts of 1943 and this song is not listed in either. It is possible that it was performed as an encore and thus not listed or perhaps was written for graduation or another function. Fitch graduated in the spring of 1943.

Listen (MIDI):

View Score (PDF) - 1943