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Alma mater reaches centennial birthday

Ohio State’s alma mater, “Carmen Ohio,” turns 100 years old today.

The words to the hymn were originally composed by Fred Cornell, an amateur poet, member of the OSU Glee Club and a four-letter athlete. There are conflicting stories of its origins – some claim it was written in 1902 on a train ride back after a painful football defeat in Ann Arbor, while others say it was at the request of the OSU Men’s Glee Club in 1903.

Both versions say it was sung publicly for the first time by the Glee Club in 1903, according to an OSU archives Web site.

Bevan Keating, conductor of the OSU Men’s Glee club, said “Carmen Ohio” is still performed at all their concerts all over the world.

The club performs the hymn in every country it goes to, he said. Everyone can understand its importance.

In fact, when the club returns from a concert, members must gather in front of the music building and sing “Carmen Ohio” before anyone is allowed to go home.

“The boys all know that this is a part of their history and now has been handed down to them,” he said.

The Men’s Glee Club is not the only one to perform “Carmen Ohio;” all the choirs at OSU perform the hymn.

The OSU marching band plays “Carmen Ohio” at the end of every football game, and the coaches and players of the OSU football team must also come together to sing the hymn, Keating said.

Part of the appeal of “Carmen Ohio” is it is not only known by the music department; most students at OSU know it as well, Keating said.

“It is a wonderful hymn because it brings such a large community like Ohio State together,” he said.

The word “Carmen” comes from Latin and Spanish origins and means, “song or poem,” and “Ohio” comes from an Indian word meaning, “the beautiful river,” according to an OSU archives Web site.

Related story: Buckeye fans to showcase Ohio’s anniversary

Extra Multimedia

Listen to the OSU Men’s Glee Club Carmen Ohio (mp3)

This sound, along with others may be found at their website at http://www.acs.ohio-state.edu/osumgc/

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