Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I can sing the Alma Mater

Almost at every turn this graduation weekend at Notre Dame we were invited to sing the Alma Mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother," including at the end of the Baccalaureate Mass.   Because of the ambiguity of the term "Notre Dame," the question came up about the appropriateness of the song at Mass. If one sees it as addressed to Our Lady, okay, but if the term refers to the university, well....

Here are the lyrics:
Notre Dame, our Mother
Tender, strong and true
Proudly in the heavens,
Gleams thy gold and blue.
Glory's mantle cloaks thee
Golden is thy fame,
And our hearts forever,
Praise thee, Notre Dame.
And our hearts forever,
Love thee, Notre Dame.
It seems to me that the lyrics are very specifically addressed to the Lady atop the Golden Dome, who is Our Lady, not the university. I'm sure it is possible for unthinking undergraduates and alumni to think that the phrase refers to the university. Certainly the university isn't adverse to making a close connotative connection between the two.

For me, though, it is so clearly Our Lady and not the university that I have no trouble singing it as a hymn even at Mass.

I also think they should sing it at the end of all home games, whether we win or lose. Just sayin'.

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