(Air: The Old Blacksmith”)
There’s a song we’ll sing till the echoes ring With our voices loud and full, ‘Tis the pride and joy of each girl and boy Who loves our dear old School. Let the chorus go that the world may know, For the School we’ll do or die. Then hurrah for the white and maroon ever bright! Hurrah for the Falkirk High! Chorus : For the School we’ll do or die, For the School we’ll do or die. The hurrah for the white and maroon ever bright! Hurrah for the Falkirk High! At St. Mungo’s halls and Edina’s walls Her renown is past compare. There’s a future don in her ev’ry son And success in her gifts so rare. Then with steadfast heart let us do out part, As the men before have done, That our ancient town may look proudly down On the fame our School has won Chorus Let the tale be told of her sportsmen bold And their triumphs in the field, Where the colours gleam of our gallant team Who are never known to yield. With the bat or ball, at their captain’s call, They have fought like heroes keen; Their renown acclaim, for they play the game, And they keep our colours clean. Chorus When the years have flown, and no more we’re known In the haunts we loved so dear, In our dreams we’ll trace each remember’d place And the old School still revere. With our classmates gay we shall sport and play Where sweet memories fondly cling; For let come what will we’ll be loyal still, And the same old song we’ll sing. Chorus
A school song, alma mater, school hymn or school anthem is the patronal song of a school. In England this tradition is particularly strong in long-established public schools and grammar schools, though it has been extended to many of more recent date. In Scotland it was far more limited in extent, though again it has become more popular of late. Indeed, there is a trend for primary school pupils to compose their own and video a performance for sharing on the worldwide web.
As secondary education was extended to major towns in the decades either side of 1900 the introduction of a school song became a way of unifying the diverse strands of pre-existing educational provision that were amalgamated to produce the new schools. It also moulded and incorporated the pupils from the feeder schools. Some of the English schools adopted the hymn “Jerusalem” with lyrics by William Blake, and set to music by William Parry in 1916 (popularised by Elgar’s version in 1922). It is used by Barnard Castle School, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School, King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford, Millfield School, the Judd School, and William Hulme’s Grammar School, amongst others. In Scotland folk songs with a similar nationalist bent became unofficial anthems.
Grammar schools harked back to the days when the teaching of Latin marked them out and there are numerous school songs in Latin. Maidstone Grammar School’s song is called “Gaudeamus” and was composed by its music master in 1908 with words by the headmaster. The “Eton Boating Song” sung at the end of the year concert at Eton College is not actually the school song for that institution which is “Carmen Etonense.” Similarly Oundle School has “Carmen Undeliense.” Sherborne School’s song, “Carmen Saeculare” was written by its headmaster in 1887. The Royal High School in Edinburgh has “Scholae Regiae Edinensis Carmen,” written in 1925, and Dundee High School “Schola Clara” from 1893.
In 1909 the Rector of Falkirk High School, Alexander C Mackay, concerned about the educational changes occurring in Falkirk, arranged a competition to compose a school song. The competition was open to all and a prize of £10 was offered. Many submitted entries under noms-de-plume to avoid bias. Entries were judged by the Falkirk Burns Club which determined on two main criteria – the song had to contain local references and to be relatively simple. The judging occurred in January 1910 when it was noted that none of the entries complied with the first of these. More entries were invited and in June 1910 a song written under an assumed named was selected. This was the one written by Rev T Logan Douglas.
T Logan Douglas was born in Falkirk in 1883 and was educated at Falkirk High School. In his last year there he was the medallist in English and Classics. He went on to study at Glasgow University, where he graduated with double honours in 1906, winning various prizes for English verse. He edited several university journals. He became an authority on Robert Burns, often appearing at Burns Suppers to proclaim the immortal memory. He was awarded a LLD. He wrote the libretto of an opera called “The Isle of Light” which was performed at Madras College, St Andrews, where his brother, William, was the English master. After his degree T Logan Douglas studied theology at Glasgow and obtained a BD degree. During the last 18 months of his divinity course he acted as student helper at Paisley. He was licensed as a minister of the Church of Scotland in May 1909 and then assisted at the Temple Church. He was appointed as the minister of Gorbals Parish Church in 1915 and in 1922 was translated to Crawford Parish Church, where he remained until retirement in 1951. He frequently appeared at the Falkirk High School reunions where he was a guest of honour.
Latterly many of the pupils of Falkirk High School found the song rather out-dated and idiosyncratic. As one commentator said, “Who from Falkirk ever said the word ‘hurrah’?” Apparently he and his mates would change the second line of the chorus so that now it played out as:
"For the School we’ll do or die, What a ------ lie!"
Or, as had once been published in an edition of the Falkirk High School Magazine, “For we’ll do the school or die”.
As for the line “with our classmates gay we shall sport and play,” by the late 1970s it was an obvious source of mirth to teenage pupils.