College Songs - Over the Years

The college song that is still performed today is “Over the Years.” It dates back to 1926, when Professor Ramsay Harris wrote it for a college song contest at the University of Rochester, where he was teaching at the time. No song was chosen as the winner there, but when Harris began teaching at Pomona in 1927, he reused the melody and revised the words to fit the College.[1]

The earliest extant arrangement of “Over the Years” is for solo voice in 4/4 time with piano accompaniment by Robert Platt ’29; programs from the 1930s indicate that the Pomona College Choir sang it at various convocations, most likely in unison.[2] For the 1943 college song book, The Songs We Sing at Pomona, however, Professor William G. Blanchard re-harmonized the accompaniment and made several other adjustments, including changing the meter to 6/8. Four years later, in 1947, Professor Ralph Lyman wrote a four-part choral arrangement based on Blanchard’s version for the combined Glee Clubs to perform on that year’s recording, Songs of Pomona College. Once the Glee Clubs began to give combined concerts under Professor Edgar vom Lehn in 1950, the mixed-voice arrangement of “Over the Years” was often sung at the end of concerts. It is one of two songs still sung with alumni at the annual Glee Club concert on the Saturday of Reunion Weekend and on tour.[3]

[Verse 1 of 2]
Where the mountains soar in battlemented blue,
Lifting high their summits crown’d in snowy glory.
Pillar’d portals rise, tenderest of ties,
Fair-wall’d Pomona known in story!
Dearer with the passing of the years,
Fairer mantl’d as the seasons fly,
In queenly splendor rule and hold dominion
As the days go swiftly by.

Over the gray years, Alma Mater,
Ever our hearts turn to thee,
To the old halls and campus,
And dear remember’d days that used to be;
Mother of clear-eyed sons and daughters,
To thy sacred task prove true!
May the golden mem’ries gather,
Fair Pomona, in honor of you!

[1] Harris had also offered it to the University of Redlands prior to revising it for Pomona, but they declined the offer for reasons we have yet to uncover. [back]

[2] At least into the 1930s, there were several convocations each year, rather than just the single opening convocation at the beginning of the academic year we have now. [back]

[3] Our thanks to Graydon Beeks ’69 for his assistance in sorting out the versions of “Over the Years.” [back]