A St. Patrick’s Day Tradition: Classic Post – “Confuse Me, I’m Irish”

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re re-posting this classic post on the strange kinds of Irish-themed sheet music to be found in our Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music. Taitneamh a bhaint as tú féin! (That’s Irish for “Enjoy yourself!”)


“Confuse Me, I’m Irish”: Evaluating Unusual Irish-Centric Sheet Music From The Early 1900s

Pictured: cognitive dissonance. From "The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago." 1920.

Pictured: cognitive dissonance. From “The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago.” 1920.

As anyone with a pulse will recall, this past week saw the annual celebration of all things Irish: St. Patrick’s Day. And like any culturally specific holiday, it was a rousing blend of traditional folklore, modern contrivance (everyone should drink green beer, just like the Real Irish People Do!) and a smattering of stereotyping. And while modern society has, for the most part, toned down its outright offensive tendencies on days like St. Paddy’s (or Patty’s – there’s actually an ongoing argument online about that one), it wasn’t that far back in our history that the very real plight of Irish Americans was portrayed in popular culture in a starkly different way.

While browsing our Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music earlier this week in pursuit of some new material for our Tumblr, Digitized and Randomized, I went straight to a set of results based on Mrs. Spencer’s category, “Ethnic-Irish.” I got more than 300 results, and they ran the gamut from patently offensive to heartbreaking and everything in between. And so I thought it would be fun to examine some of the more unusual pieces of music from the Irish category, especially those that feature Irish protagonists in strange situations.

How Did We Get Here?

Before we jump into our results, it’s worth a quick peek into the history of Irish Americans prior to the mid-1900s (the time when the pieces we’ll examine were all created). In the late 1800s, Irish immigration to America had seen hundreds of thousands of men, women and children arriving in the U.S. and swelling the ranks of established Irish neighborhoods in East Coast cities as well as strongholds in the South. As the poorest of all immigrant groups to arrive in the U.S. in the 19th century, they often took dangerous, low-paying jobs. Add to this fact a tendency for urban neighborhoods to be crowded, unsafe and unsanitary, and you began to see a rise in alcohol abuse and crime – two stereotypical traits assigned to Irish Americans in the popular culture of the day (as we’ll see below).

Other sources of “inspiration” for the pieces we’ll explore today include the long-standing (and often violent) split between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants; the alleged belligerence and/or violent tendencies of Irish men; the supposed moral and intellectual inferiority of the Irish; and the pervasive myth that the Irish are perpetually inebriated. As composers of the early 20th century set pen to paper in the pursuit of filling the American public’s insatiable appetite for musical entertainment, they kept these “facts” and half-truths about Irish Americans in mind, spawning pieces that drew on Irish Americans’ fond remembrances of their native culture (example) to anti-Irish sentiment (example).

An Irish Pharoah?

But understanding pro- and anti-Irish sentiment is a relatively easy task compared to puzzling out the meanings behind our featured pieces for this week’s post. They are loosely gathered around a pair of themes: the Irish protagonist in an unfamiliar setting and/or the presence of Irish where audiences wouldn’t expect to find it, like our first piece: The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago.

"The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago" by Chris Smith. 1920.

“The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago” by Chris Smith. 1920.

The visuals on this piece are particularly striking, with a typical desert scene set before the pyramids mixed with the cognitive dissonance of a repeated shamrock motif on the throne of an Egyptian queen. The central conceit for this piece is that the narrator has deciphered a startling fact from the “weird and cryptic” writings found “upon the tombs that dot Sahara’s sands”: the Irish were Egyptians long ago – “Just read between the lines and you will know.”

The “proof” of their ancient Egyptian heritage is given as the fact that the pyramids were built by manual labor (“It must have been the Irish who build the Pyramids / For no one else could carry up the bricks”); the Nile was dug by a tough, brave man (“For no one but an Irishman would fight a crocodile”); and the drovers of desert caravans had to have been named Houlihan, Mac or O.

This piece achieves a strange blend of whimsy (adding shamrocks to a typical Egyptian scene) and humor with negative stereotyping of not one but two cultures. This two-front offensive is also evident in our next piece, Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney.

"Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney," by Theodore Morse and Jack Drislane. 1907.

“Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney,” by Theodore Morse and Jack Drislane. 1907.

 

Another “humorous” piece that trades on the unexpected mashup of two traditionally oppressed and/or caricatured cultures, this piece details the chaos that naturally followed when an Indian princess (Arrah Wanna) marries an Irishman named Barney Carney. It seems all it took to completely disrupt Native American culture (at least as the stereotypes would have it) was for one woman to marry a man from Erin, as evidenced by such strange occurrences as:

– “[n]o more do the Indians put paint upon their face”

– “The tom-toms play the ‘Wearing of the Green'”

– “The wigwams are full of Irish Blarney”

– “The Pipe of Peace is made of Irish clay”

There are more, but you get the picture. The introduction of an outsider of Irish origin upsetting the local culture (or attempting to assimilate into it in unexpected, humorous ways) will be repeated in our remaining pieces, each with the theme of romantic interest as a primary motivator. Up next is our final example of an Irishman falling under the guile of a “foreign” culture: O’Brien is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian.

"O'Brien Is Tryin' To Learn To Talk Hawaiian" by J. Rennie Cormack. 1916.

“O’Brien Is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian” by J. Rennie Cormack. 1916.

Here, a hapless tourist from Ireland arrives in the Sandwich Isles (the name given to the Hawaiian Islands by Capt. Cook in the 1700s) and discovers the native women to be of such beauty that he instantly forgets his wife at home in the presence of a “lovely Hula dancer down beside Hawaii Bay.” Pat O’Brien, our protagonist, is revealed to be a skilled performer in his own right (“He won Bridget, Kate and Mary by singing ‘Tipperary’ / And he’ll win his Lulu too”) who is so moved by the girls’ beauty that he attempts to learn her native tongue, to hilarious results. In addition to being a standard “man falls in love with beguiling, exotic beauty” tale, there’s also the opportunity for lyricist Al Dubin to mock the languages of both Ireland and Hawaii, as in this tongue-twisting passage:

He’s sighin’ and cryin’ and all the time he’s tryin’
Just to say “I love you true”
With his “Arrah Yaka Hula Begorra Hick Dula”
And his Irish “Jiji Boo”

We never learn if this would-be suitor succeeds in his philandering pursuits, but we’ll leave him at his studies (“Hawaiian’s hard to get with an Irish alphabet”) and shift our attention to two pieces where the object of the narrator’s affection is a woman of Irish heritage. The first is set in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and bears the title Santiago Flynn.

"Santiago Flynn: A Spanish-Irish Episode" by Theodore F. Morse and Edward Madden. 1908.

“Santiago Flynn: A Spanish-Irish Episode” by Theodore F. Morse and Edward Madden. 1908.

This piece relates a tale of two would-be lovers: Santiago Flynn (“He dressed like a Spanish grandee / He rode on a pony thin”) and an Irish Rose who lived on a nearby plantation. Though Rose liked the cut of Santiago’s jib (“She cried, ‘You’re a hot tamale'”), she regrets that she can only marry a man from Ireland. And then, to our surprise (SPOILER ALERT!), Santiago reveals his secret:

“He jumped in a wild fandango
He cried with an Irish grin
‘Tho born underneath the Mano
My father was Paddy Flynn’

And so was Santiago able to gain access to his lover’s abode (“She cried ‘Come in, Mister Flynn / I’ll never say again'”) and all ends well for our protagonist. It should be noted that this piece uses a particularly unpleasant slur used in reference to Santiago’s outward appearance, so be ready if you click over to read the lyrics in full.

Our last piece combines the exotic (an Egyptian setting) with the romantic, the stereotypical and the allure of an Irish woman’s beauty, all under a ridiculous title: Cleopatricola.

"Cleopatricola (Cleo-patrick-ola" by Jean Schwartz and Alfred Bryan. 1920.

“Cleopatricola (Cleo-patrick-ola” by Jean Schwartz and Alfred Bryan. 1920.

This piece comes closest to embodying all of the elements we’ve discussed so far into one semi-coherent package. Rather than post excerpts of the lyrics, I’m choosing to reproduce them in full:

VERSE
Once I took a camel ride
Far across the desert wide
Met a maiden way down by the Nile
As I sat down by her side
Her entrancing form I spied

Then she gave me a sweet Irish smile
She told me that she was born in Erin
Cleopatricola was her name
Mighty soon my love I was declarin’
I spoke these words and set her heart aflame

CHORUS
Cleopatricola Cleopatricola
tell me what to do
By my heart and soul O Cleopatricola
I’m in love with you

There I found my Shamrock in Sahara
By the River Nile so fresh and green
Cleopatricola Patricola,
My Egyptian Colleen

VERSE
As the sun was going down
We went down to Cairo town
Met King Pharaoh and all of his crew
First we read the Rubaiyat
Then we had a little chat
Played Casino with Pharoah till two

She told me that she was “jipt” in Egypt
And that King Rameses was the blame
He told her she’d be a queen of Sheba
And spoke those very words before I came
(Repeat CHORUS)

This one’s got it all: a fish-out-of-water, a besotted suitor, a jilted lover, Irish motifs (the shamrock), local flair (Casino and the Rubaiyat) and Irish slang (referring to Irish women as Colleens). Add that to what I consider the best example of cover art of the pieces we’ve examined today – she looks like an Egyptian princess by way of Zelda Fitzgerald – and you have a winner in the category of Wait, Did I Seriously Just Read A Song About An Irish Person Doing WHAT?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lighthearted look at some of the stranger pieces from our Irish subcategory in the Spencer Collection. There are no end of interesting pieces in the Spencer Collection, and we’ll be taking a look at them again from time to time. ‘Til then, if you find any fun examples of cross-cultural curiosity, send us a tip at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu. See you next week!


For more examples of Irish-themed sheet music in the Spencer Collection, click here. Special thanks to our friends at the Crouch Fine Arts Library for the partnership that brings the Spencer Collection to you via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!

The Other February Music Award That Matters: Celebrating a Big Win for the BGMRP

It’s one thing to be excited about recognition from big names like the Smithsonian Institution, but it’s just as rewarding to get a pat on the back from your home institution – to, as we say in Texas, “dance with the one that brung us.” That’s why we were honored as a team to receive the 2016 Baylor University Diversity Enhancement Award for the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. The Digital Projects Group team – and associated friends – received the honor at the Cultural Connection Celebration on Thursday, February 9 at the gleaming new Foster Campus for Business and Innovation.

According to its issuing body, the Campus Diversity Committee:

The Award is given to individuals (staff and faculty), organizations or programs within Baylor University that strengthen and promote respect for diversity through innovative leadership and service or practices and programs designed to enhance a climate of understanding and respect throughout the campus community.

The BGMRP was honored for our work to acquire, preserve and make accessible the rare American black gospel recordings we digitize every day. We were also recognized for being a nationally visible outreach project of the university, an example of the good work being done by the University Libraries to promote, protect and provide access to scholarship for our campus community and beyond.

Below are some photos of the event; courtesy lines are included to thank the multiple contributors who made this post visually appealing.

The BGMRP team (left to right): Prof. Robert Darden, Eric Ames, Darryl Stuhr, Kara Long, Stephen Bolech, Travis Taylor. Photo courtesy Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez.

 

The team listens as interim President David Garland presents the award. Photo courtesy Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez.

 

Assistant Director for Digital Projects Darryl Stuhr addresses the crowd. Photo courtesy Baylor Marketing & Communications.

 

Prof. Robert Darden speaks of the team’s important work. Photo courtesy Baylor Marketing & Communications.

 

Prof. Darden and President Garland shake hands as Stephen Bolech and Kara Long look on. Photo courtesy Baylor Marketing & Communications.

 


To learn more about the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, visit
http://www.baylor.edu/library/gospel.

Inauguration Day in the “Lariat” 1900-2017

As Baylor’s chronicler of news both local and national since 1900, the Baylor Lariat has seen 35 transfers of power in the Executive Branch (including today‘s swearing in of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President). While not all of those events warranted large write-ups, we thought it would be timely to point out some of the highlights from the collection and see how Baylor students of years past viewed one of the most remarkable occurrences in world history: the peaceful abdication from executive authority in favor of a democratically elected successor.


First Presidential Change Covered in the Lariat: The Death of William McKinley, September 21, 1901 issue

While technically focused on in memoriam coverage of McKinley’s assassination in Buffalo, NY, it also marked the first time the Lariat printed coverage of a major national political event, coming less than a year after the newspaper’s first issue.

 


First Appearance of Inauguration Activities as Lead Headline: Inauguration of Calvin Coolidge, March 4, 1925 issue


First Article on Inauguration Activities to Feature a Photo of the New President: Inauguration of Herbert Hoover, March 5, 1929 issue


First Reference to Baylor Faculty Member Present at an Inauguration: First Inaugural of Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 7, 1933 issue


Student Reaction, Memorial on Death of President Roosevelt: April 17, 1945 issue


Open Letter to President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower by “Jay Torto,” January 21, 1953 issue


First Above-the-fold Coverage of Inauguration by AP Report: Jimmy Carter, January 20, 1977 issue


First Editorial Content, Inauguration Day: President Reagan’s First Inaugural, January 26, 1981 issue


First Coverage of Inauguration with Local Area Connection: George W. Bush and Crawford “Western White House,” January 19, 2001 issue


First On-Scene Reporting of an Inauguration: First Inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 21, 2009 issue


The Inauguration of Donald J. Trump: January 20, 2017 issue

“Dreaming” In Stereo: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project

Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a press conference courtesy the Library of Congress

For many of our readers, the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project’s name likely conjures up images of Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe or the Mighty Wonders of Aquasco, Maryland. But on this MLK Day 2017, we wanted to draw your attention to a few items from the collection with direct ties to Dr. King, especially his “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963.

Dr. King’s speech that day has rightfully become one of the best-known speeches in American history, its words inspiring the lives of activists, preachers, scholars and the general public for the better part of six decades. For black gospel artists recording in the years after 1963, Dr. King’s speech was fertile ground for creative expression, and they responded by creating songs that sampled portions of the speech’s recorded audio, drew inspiration from its words, or otherwise supported the Civil Rights Movement in the wake of is delivery.


I Have A Dream, recorded audio of Dr. King’s speech, 1963 on Gordy Records 45 RPM disc (Click player below for audio)

 

This disc embodies two of the ways black gospel artists responded to Dr. King’s message. The B-Side recording contains just under 4 minutes’ worth of Dr. King’s speech and ends with raucous applause after his immortal lines, “Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

 


Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King by Rev. Franklin Fondel, ca. 1969 on Cross & Crown Records 45 RPM disc (Click player below for audio)

 

The Rev. Franklin Fondel recorded these tracks with his Fondel Gospel Singers in the aftermath of Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. Plaintively spoken over an accompanying organ track, Rev. Fondel spells out in rhyme both Dr. King’s life achievements and his impact on the work of the Civil Rights Movement, noting that King’s love “was the key that opened freedom’s door; no other man could have done more.”

 


I Believe Martin Luther King Made It Home by The All-Star Gospel Singers, ca. 1969 on EM-Jay Records 45 RPM disc (Click player below for audio)

 

This bluesy tribute to Dr. King features layered vocals, upright bass and electric guitar and a simple vocal refrain: “I believe Martin Luther King made it home, yes I do.”

 


In Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King by Claude Jeter, 1968 on HOB Records 45 RPM disc (Click player below for audio)

 

Recorded in the immediate aftermath of Dr. King’s death, Jeter’s spoken-word tribute to King’s life and work is set over accompaniment by electric bass, piano and organ.

 


As we reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy on this January Monday, those of us at the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project hope these songs – and the thousands of others in the project – will help bring a new perspective to his message of love, equality and freedom for all.

“I Like to Speak the Lingo of the Laity” – Celebrating the 70th anniversary of a Pat Neff Chapel Talk

screen-shot-2016-12-14-at-2-42-44-pmOn Monday, December 16, 1946, Baylor University president Pat M. Neff delivered a speech to the students assembled for what would be the final Chapel gathering of the year. Students were scheduled to be released for the Christmas break at 5:00 PM on Thursday the 19th, and everyone was in a festive frame of mind, including President Neff. That spirit of good cheer probably accounts for why, as the needle dropped on a turntable that would record his speech for posterity, Neff chose to open his presentation with a joke.

I do not know what we’d do if we didn’t have the weather to talk about. And do you know why we talk about the weather? It’s because one person in Texas knows just as much about the weather as any other person. Therefore, we meet on a common platform and discuss the weather.

(I didn’t say it was a good joke, just that it was, technically a joke.)

And now, 70 years to the day after it was recorded live in Waco Hall, you can hear the speech in its entirety – and read a full transcript, if you’re so inclined – as part of the Baylor University Archives Digital Collection. [http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/ref/collection/bu-archive/id/1868]

Click play on the player above to listen to the entire speech in this browser window. NOTE: Due to size restrictions for MP3 files in WordPress, the quality of this audio has been reduced from the original audio that can be found at the link to our Digital Collections site.

We wanted to take the occasion of this major anniversary to examine President Neff’s message, to dive into its sentiments, to examine what was on the president’s mind at the close of what would be his penultimate year as Baylor’s chief executive … and, most importantly, to discuss something that caught all of us here a little off-guard: Pat Neff was actually pretty funny.


“Smilin'” Pat Neff

We jokingly refer to President Neff by the nickname “Smilin'” Pat Neff, mainly because we’ve never actually seen him smile. As evidence, here are his official portraits from the Round Up, our campus yearbook, from the 1940s.

neff_at_desk_1940s

That’s as big as his smiles get, folks.

And lest you think this was just a result of being a little more seasoned by life’s hardships, so to speak, observe this retrospective collage of Neff photos from the 1943 Round Up.

1943

Some people just want to watch the world react in an even-keeled way.

With all of this evidence to the contrary, you can forgive us for not expecting Neff to have much of a sense of humor. But that’s where we turned out to be very wrong.

It actually shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise, in retrospect. After all, Neff ran a successful campaign for statewide office – governor, no less – and was a successful fundraiser and member of Baylor’s Board of Trustees before assuming the BU presidency. With some notable exceptions – *coughCalvinCoolidgecough* – it’s incredibly difficult to become such a powerful person without possessing any personality at all. But you can forgive us for being surprised to find not one but numerous occasions throughout the December 16, 1946 chapel talk recording where Neff’s speech is interrupted by audience laughter. And not just polite, “Oh, our president is so humorous, let’s give him a chuckle” kind of laughter, but actual, “By gum, that’s funny!” laughter. In fact, the transcript is interrupted more than two dozen times with the phrase [audience laughter], indicating Neff not only knew his way around a desk but around a punchline as well.


The Man Speaks

1944

President Neff: statesman, president, world champion microphone staring contest winner

When the transcription disks containing Neff’s 1946 Chapel talk were digitized earlier this year, none of our staff in the Digital Projects Group had ever heard his voice. In fact, other than recognizing his stoic visage from an item we’d digitized several years earlier, no one other than myself had had much occasion to look at or think about materials related to Baylor’s former president. But I’d always been fascinated with Neff’s life and impact on the state of Texas. (Fun fact: as a proud Texas Tech Red Raider alumnus, Neff holds a special place in my heart as the governor who signed the bill, in 1923, establishing Texas Technological College in Lubbock.) So I was particularly excited to hear Neff’s voice for the first time when I first sat down to transcribe the five album sides containing the speech.

Neff’s voice on the recordings is strong and clear, with a distinct Texas drawl and a now-familiar cadence that I recognize as being inherent to public speakers who grew up learning to speak in public at the turn of the last century. He speaks a little on the slow side and with a seasoned speaker’s ability to pace his words to his audience’s reaction. This, after all, was a man accustomed to addressing crowds of well-wishers, nay-sayers, Congressmen, rodeos, student groups and classrooms; in short, he knows what he’s doing on a speaker’s rostrum.

After opening with his “Texas weather” joke – a safe topic for anyone who’s spent more than 10 seconds in our fair state – Neff launches into the meat of his presentation: what to talk about when you head home for Christmas and you’re stuck with your parents. Neff recognizes that many of these students are going home for the first time since arriving in the summer as freshmen, and he notes that the people back home might not recognize them anymore (because the women students in particular might have on “these little lampshade things they call a hat”). In addition, he thinks they might be interested to hear more about Baylor University and the life of the campus, so his thrust for the speech is to give the student body some interesting facts with which to regale the curious during the Christmastide.

One of his biggest laugh lines – and the source of the quote in this post’s title – is when Neff encourages the students to engage with everyone they meet back home. He notes that they may be shy to speak to these strange creatures known as college students, but that the Baylor Bears are to be “calm when you go to church, or their party, or their shindig” – at which point the audience breaks into laughter. Neff, in a bit of self-effacing humor after using such an up-to-date piece of slang, notes with mock humility that he likes “to speak the lingo of the laity.” This, of course, draws additional laughter.

Neff draws another big laugh out of a riff on what a privilege it is to be at Baylor in 1946. I’ll let the transcript tell it from here:

Sure, it’s a wonderful thing to be at an institution of learning like this. Sit down and talk to your folks about it. It won’t do you any harm and it’ll do them a whole lot of good. That’s what the girl said when her mother reprimanded her for letting the boys kiss her. She says, ‘Mother, it didn’t do me any harm and it did the boys a lot of good.'” [audience laughter] I don’t see anything funny about that! [laughs, audience laughter].

The “boys kissing the girl” joke plays off smoothly and strikes me as the kind of joke Neff probably told dozens of times at dozens of events during a long career as a public figure. But that doesn’t make the students’ genuinely amused response, or Neff’s laughing retort, any less delightful.

In between all the giggles and guffaws, however, there runs a serious streak. Neff takes the occasion of his Chapel talk to remind the assembled students that while the majority of students at Baylor were reported to be of the Baptist religious affiliation, other groups on campus were growing every year. The presence of Methodists, Lutherans, Church of Christ and Christian Church members may not be surprising on a large college campus in 1946, but the note that there were a total of 26 different denominations – including Quakers and Mormons – might be. Perhaps more surprising is Neff’s encouragement that the students “touch elbows and have comradeship and fellowship with somebody outside of your circle.” He continues, “If I were in your place, I’d make the acquaintance of these Mormons, and I’d make acquaintance of these Quakers … You might try them on and see what they have with their religion. If you can’t fortify yours and stand up with it and by it, perhaps it’ll do you good to listen to some of these others.”

That sets up one of Neff’s most effective lines in the entire speech, one that does what any good university-level speech ought to do to its audience: make them think.

I’ll tell you now, if you ever tie in to a Mormon, he can tell you why he’s a Mormon. I know why you’re a Baptist: because your parents were. He can tell you why he is. The faith that’s in him. Try one of them. See if you can.

At first, this reads as much as an insult as a joke, but after letting it sit with me for a few minutes, it struck me that what Neff was doing wasn’t an attempt to tear anyone down but to encourage members of all the various faiths present on campus to truly examine their beliefs, to do some (literal) soul searching and to know, inherently, why they identified as a particular religion, and not just for a surface reason like family tradition. He is encouraging the students to truly – to borrow a phrase – “know themselves.”

After a true master class in public speaking, Neff draws his speech to a close after twenty minutes of laughs, insight and homespun wisdom with this closing passage:

We just have to to through the world our one time, we go through just once. And when you go through these coming holiday seasons, you’ll pass through them no more. When this chapel has been adjourned, you’ll not be just as you are anymore; that’ll be in the past. The mill never grinds through the water that’s passed.

It’s an introspective, somewhat bittersweet dispensation of wisdom from a man who will pass from the Earth in a mere five years to a room full of the nation’s robust youth, fresh off the end of a devastating World War and awash in the promise of a better tomorrow, and it strikes me as pitch perfect for the occasion.

In lieu of a “benediction,” Neff closes the recording by kicking off an organ-accompanied rendition of That Good Old Baylor Line, as hundreds of youthful voices unite together to close out a semester of learning, fellowship and growth.

 


 

A Worthy Challenge

The entire 22 minute recording is well worth your listen, but if you have time for only a short excerpt, I encourage you to listen to this section of audio where Neff exhorts the students to remember the high privilege of being able to attend a university in a time when so many people in the country worked at backbreaking, manual labor and would never know the dream of an advanced education.

 


 

Bonus Audio!

On the b-side of the final disk of the Chapel talk recordings, an enterprising audiophile went into the clear cold morning of December 24, 1946 and recorded audio of the bells of Baylor campus playing two short Christmas songs: O Christmas Tree and Silent Night. We hope you enjoy these seasonally appropriate sounds of Baylor University as it was recorded live, 70 years ago this month.