Words and Music by Washington Gladden, Class of 1859
The alma mater “The Mountains,” thought to be the first composed by an undergraduate, was written by Washington Gladden, Williams class of 1859. In his memoirs, he wrote: “I had been wishing that I might write a song which could be sung at some of our exhibitions; and one winter morning, walking down Bee Hill, the lilt of the chorus of ‘The Mountains’ came to me. I had a little music-paper in my room in the village, and on my arrival I wrote down the notes. Then I cast about for words to fit them, and the refrain ‘The Mountains, the Mountains’ suggested itself. I wrote the melody of the stanza next and fitted the verses to it. …That it would … become the accepted College Song, I could not, of course, have imagined.”
While Gladden wrote four verses, only the first and last are customarily sung
O, proudly rise the monarchs of our mountain land,
With their kingly forest robes, to the sky,
Where Alma Mater dwelleth with her chosen band,
And the peaceful river floweth gently by.
The mountains! The mountains! We greet them with a song,
Whose echoes rebounding their woodland heights along,
Shall mingle with anthems that winds and fountains sing,
Till hill and valley gaily gaily ring.
The snows of winter crown them with a crystal crown,
And the silver clouds of summer round them cling;
The Autumn’s scarlet mantle flows in richness down;
And they revel in the garniture of Spring.
O, mightily they battle with the stormking’s power;
And the conquerors shall triumph here for aye;
Yet quietly their shadows fall at evening hour,
While the gentle breezes round them softly play.
Beneath their peaceful shadows may old Williams stand,
Till the suns and mountains never more shall be,
The glory and the honor of our mountain land,
And the dwelling of the gallant and the free.