At the time of the first Freshman Jubilee, the Harvard Illustrated published an article outlining the administration of the Jubilee and calling attention to the fact that the real reason for inaugurating this new celebration was to be found in the desire of many graduates and undergraduates that a singing tradition might be established here such as exists in foreign universities and in a few colleges of our own country, notably Amherst. Shortly thereafter there appeared in the Illustrated a letter from a graduate expressing the hope that the early promise of the Jubilee might be fulfilled and that Harvard men would learn to sing well, and, in particular, wisely, since in his day no student sang with spontaneity and vigor save in the shower-baths, a practice wholly deplored by those who were given to meditation or to sleep.
We are well past the "shower-bath" stage, but the war has necessarily interfered with the progress of singing at Harvard. Now, however, we may hope to see an interest in the singing of good, spirited and vital music that shall make itself felt at every college function, formal or informal, and so, eventually, at every graduate affair. There is no "college" occasion where singing is inappropriate; at football games, at athletic meets, at smokers, in clubs,--everywhere is singing desirable, not the half-hearted, heavy, rhythm less rumble that we have sometimes heard in the Stadium, but a clean-cut, vigorous, buoyant singing that will be an inspiration to everyone that hears it.
Each succeeding Freshman class has taken an increasing interest in singing, last year's Jubilee being perhaps the most successful yet held. Men who didn't know they could sing, or who even thought they couldn't, have learned that one can fall far short of operatic standards of vocal performance and yet enjoy singing. The Freshman Jubilee does not aim to educate nor does it intend to force men to sing against their will; it only hopes to lay the foundation for a life-long enjoyment of one of the most natural and delightful of the few co-operative activities in which a great company can simultaneously take part.
We are, indeed, well past the "showerbath" stage, but as yet far from the spirit of Elizabethan days which looked upon a man as hardly a gentleman who could not carry his part in a glee. The following eight reasons for singing are no less applicable to Harvard men because they were written in the sixteenth century:--
"First, it, (that is, singing), is a knowledge easily taught and quickly learned, where there is a good master and an apt scholler.
2. The exercise of singing is delightful to nature, and good to preserve the health of man.
3. It doth strengthen all parts of the brest and doth opens the pipes.
4. It is a singular good remedy for a stutting and a stammering in the speech.
5. It is the best means to procure a perfect pronunciation and to make a good orator.
6. It is the only way to know where nature hath bestowed a good voyce, which guift is so rare, as there is not one among a thousand that hath it:--and in many that excellent guift is lost because they want art to expresse nature.
7. There is not any musicke of Instruments whatsoever, comparable to that which is made of the voyces of men; where the voyces are good, and the same well-sorted and ordered.
8. The better the voyce is, the meeter it is to honor and serve God therewith, and the voyce of man is chiefly to be employed to that end.
Omnis Spiritus laudet Dominum
Since singing is so good a thing
I wish all men would learn to sing."