THE VARSITY TRADITION
In 1916, SMU
theology student Lewis N. Stuckey wrote the words and music to
Varsity. As Stuckey was driving to school one morning, he saw the
University far in the distance and was inspired to write a song. In
addition to his work as a student, Stuckey was also pastor of a
church in Farmers Branch and one in Carrollton. One Sunday he
invited his friend Harrison Baker to the Carrollton church where the
new song was to be sung, and Baker was so impressed that he thought
the composition should be the alma mater of Southern Methodist
In 1929, Varsity
was adopted by SMU as its official school song. In the same year,
Professor Todd, SMU’s first band director from 1917 to 1924,
published the song using his arrangement with Stuckey’s approval.
The notice on the sheet music says “Copyright 1929 by Harold Hart
A vocal precentor,
selected by the Head of the Voice Department, leads the ceremony
participants in Varsity at the conclusion of Opening Convocation,
December Graduation and the Baccalaureate Service. The precentor is
traditionally a graduation candidate and has the honor of sitting on
stage as a member of the platform party.
Commencement Convocation each May, the lights of Moody Coliseum are
dimmed as Varsity is played by the Imperial Brass. Graduation
candidates are encouraged to bow their heads in silence, close their
eyes and reflect on their time at SMU as the song is performed.
This is the only time Varsity is presented in this format, and it is
always a moving occasion. Varsity has been performed in this manner
since May 1984.
Oh we see the
As she towers o’er
And our hearts are
filled with joy,
Alma Mater, we’ll