Journal Title George Fox Journal Online

Singers on the Bauman Stage

'Comrades, come and raise your voices'

by Abby Haight | Reprinted with permission of The Oregonian

They stood in a knot of nervousness near the Bauman Auditorium stage at George Fox University.

Most of the 38 George Fox alumni were residents of the Friendsview Retirement Center across the street from the university. Several wore school sweaters. One man tugged a faded beanie over his silvery hair. Navy and gold, everywhere.

They were there to sing a special song before a recent Wednesday chapel service. Their audience was 1,000 undergraduates— who probably didn’t know or care that their university had a school song, written 103 years ago. Would the young people laugh, the singers worried. Were today’s Bruins too sophisticated for the heartfelt — but slightly corny — earnestness of “Close Beside Chehalem’s Mountain”?

The piano tinkled the opening notes and some in the audience laughed. A moment of silence, and then they began — a cappella, as they had decades ago.

Close beside Chehalem’s Mountain
Is the college we adore;
Like an ever-flowing fountain,
She will stand forevermore.

Robby Larson, the university’s director of alumni relations, was visiting Friendsview Retirement Center, where about 100 of the 400 residents are alumni of the Christian liberal arts school and many others have connections to the university.

Did Larson know the school song? someone asked.

Paul Thornburg (’46) leads the singing.
Paul Thornburg (’46) leads the singing.

“And, just like that, 60 people started singing,” Larson said. “It almost brought us to tears, it was so powerful.”

The song hadn’t been sung on campus since the 1991 centennial celebration.

Emily Rastovich, a junior from Camarillo, Calif., who is president of the Bruin Heritage Society, helped arrange the performance.

“For students, it’s so amazing,” Rastovich said. “We have four years here, and here are people whose four years were a long time ago. But they still love the school and want to sing the song.”

‘Close Beside
Chehalem’s
Mountain’

The official song
of George Fox University

Verse 1:
Close beside Chehalem’s mountain,
Is the college we adore;
Like an ever-flowing fountain,
She will stand forevermore.
Where she stands we’ll ne’er forget it,
Near the old Willamette’s banks,
And in years we’ll ne’er regret it,
That we entered in her ranks.

Chorus:
’Tis the good old Quaker College,
And we’ll shout her worthy name;
Where we gained our store of knowledge,
In her halls of honor’s fame.
And we’ll always in this manner
To our mother school be true,
’Neath the George Fox College banner
Of Old Gold and Navy Blue.

Verse 2:
Comrades, come and raise your voices,
Let us praise our college, dear,
While with her your heart rejoices,
Spread her glory far and near,
Then a rousing cheer we give her,
’Tis the least that we can do;
G.F.C. we’ll love forever,
Her Old Gold and Navy Blue.

Verse 3:
When the four loved years of college
Shall have long since slipp’d away,
When with worldly care and knowledge,
Many a head is turning gray,
Still we’ll shout her praise the louder
And our hearts give echo true,
As we cheer our Alma Mater,
Our Old Gold and Navy Blue.

’Tis the good old Quaker College,
And we’ll shout her worthy name;
Where we gained our store of knowledge,
In her halls of honor’s fame.

Rosa Hester could never forget the words. She sang it so often back then, when George Fox was known as Pacific College — at daily chapel, at sports contests, at almost every special event, it seemed.

At 100, Hester (’29) is George Fox’s oldest alumna. She sat in the front row, her silvery hair carefully waved, her clear soprano joining with the 30 singers on stage.

Arthur (’44) and Fern (’42) Roberts met at George Fox. They sang the school song at pep rallies every Friday.

By the 1970s, the school song had faded into oblivion.

Arthur Roberts, who taught for more than 50 years at George Fox, attributed the song’s demise to youth disenchantment during the Vietnam War, among other cultural influences.

“Pop music came in, and the song sounded old-fashioned, dumb,” Roberts said.

When the four loved years of college
Shall have long since slipp’d away,
When with worldly care and knowledge,
Many a head is turning gray.

The words flashed up on the big screen. Tentatively at first, voices from the hall joined in. Nineteen- and 20-year-olds, singing with 70-year-olds.

Then it was over.

The singers on stage grinned, some laughing in relief.

The applause started. Then the George Fox students of today rose, clapping and cheering.

And we’ll always in this manner
To our mother school be true,
’Neath the George Fox College banner
Of Old Gold and Navy Blue.

Highlights

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Soon after arriving on campus, most George Fox freshmen get a lesson on the university's oldest and oddest tradition.  Full story...

Bruin Notes
The Inauguration of President Robin Baker | Allen fills top academic post | Executive Team Expands | Conniry named seminary dean | A simple gift | Car accident claims student's life | Noteworthy (Web Exclusive Content) | Women's basketball returns to 'Sweet 16' | Bend it like Tsohantaridis | Satern stars  Full stories...