In 1909, Brodie Payne, an alumnus of the University of Arkansas, submitted his song to an ongoing competition to find a University song and won first prize. Henry D. Tovey, who was the director of the Glee Club at that time, set the song to music. In 1931, the University College Song Association in New York reviewed a collection of 500 college tunes, and the UA Alma Mater was judged to be one of the 25 best college songs of the United States.
The first verse of the Alma Mater is still sung to this day. It is tradition to point to the Towers of Old Main during the last line of the first verse.
Alma Mater Lyrics
Pure as the dawn on the brow of thy beauty
Watches thy soul from the mountains of God
Over the Fates of thy children departed
Far from the land where their footsteps have trod.
Beacon of hope in the ways dreary lighted;
Pride of our hearts that are loyal and true;
From those who adore unto one who adores us-
Mother of Mothers, we sing unto you.
We, with our faces turned high to the Eastward,
Proud of our place in the vanguard of Truth,
Will sing unto thee a new song of thanksgiving-
Honor to God and the Springtime of Youth.
Shout of the victor or tear of the vanquished;
Sunshine or tempest thy heart is e'er true;
Pride of the Hills and the white-laden Lowlands-
Mother of Mothers, we kneel unto you.
Ever the Legions of Sin will assail us,
Ever the Battle in Cities afar;
Still in the depths will thy Spirit eternal
Beckon us on like a piloting Star.
Down in dim years do thy dead children call thee,
Wafted to Sleep while the Springtime was new;
We, of the Present, thy hope of the Future-
Mother of Mothers, we pray unto you.