Tucked away in the chilly, upper reserve rooms of McDonald Library, a faded blue booklet with a hand-drawn cover links past to present. The thin paperback comprises a collection of songs published in 1928 to commemorate all areas of University activity.
After appealing to alumni and students for new music to replace outdated tunes, the book’s editors—John C. Downing, Joseph J. McGuiness, John K. Mussio and Eugene Perazzo—compiled hymns, marches, football and victory songs, as well as the school song, “Alma Mater Xavier,” which Mussio himself penned.
Songs such as, “The Galloping Musketeers,” “Xavier Rally Rhyme,” and “Old Xavier for Aye,” reflect the spirit and loyalty of the University during this prosperous decade, and, according to the 1928 yearbook, “has accomplished the purpose for which it was published—to give life and color to all St. Xavier events and to make for a stronger friendship between the loyal sons of the Alma Mater.”
Although many of these songs do not trip as easily along students’ lips as they once did, “Alma Mater Xavier” retains some familiarity. The song is often played at commencement exercises and sung by Xavier’s choirs.
“It is a way to physically touch the living history of Xavier,” says Tom Merrill, conductor of the concert choir and director for choral activities. “Whenever I hear the tune of my college Alma Mater, I am instantly back at that place and in that time.”