Stories from the Archives

100 years of the Marywood University Alma Mater

This year is the 100th anniversary of the writing of the Alma Mater for Marywood University.

Our hearts are thine, sweet Marywood.
We love thy sacred walls!
Here inspiration walks with us
Through silent, sunlit halls.
We love thy flower girded walks,
Thy fields and groves of green,
The vales and dells and distant hills
That from thy heights are seen.

Oh Marywood, sweet source of hope,
In Thee our hearts abide;
From wisdom’s fountain here shall flow
A pure refreshing tide
To satisfy the thirsty world
And spread God’s glory wide.

All hail to thee, fair Marywood!
Sweet mem’ries round thee cling.
Of all the triumphs in the past
Today we fondly sing.
But oh!, more proudly do we point
To glory and to fame,
That through unending ages shall
Immortalize thy name.

Words by S.M.R. Music by S.M.F.

100 years

This year is the 100th anniversary of the writing of the Alma Mater for Marywood University. Early copies of the music indicate that the author of the words was S. M. R.; the composer of the music was S. M. F. Based on later copies of this song, we know that Sister M. Felicitas Ryan wrote the music, but who wrote the words (a reversal of last month’s newsletter item).

Marion E. Ryan was born in Susquehanna, PA in 1896. She attended Laurel Hill Academy in Susquehanna, PA; and entered the Community at Mount Saint Mary’s in 1912. In 1918 she was assigned to Marywood College as a music teacher, and was there at the time she wrote the music for the Alma Mater. Little did we know what a great contribution she would make to Marywood College at that time. Over her career, she attended schools in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, England, Spain, and Ireland. Is it any wonder she was appointed Supervisor of Schools for the Community?

But who wrote the words for this beloved song? In a biography of her father we learn that she was one of nine children, her name at birth was Mary C., and she was born in Friendsville, PA in 1871. She graduated from Laurel Hill Academy and in 1910 helped to write a collection of poems, Idyls of Lakeside in honor of the Academy for its Golden Jubilee. Mary C. was a teacher in Susquehanna County for ten years before entering the IHMs in 1898. S. M. R. served at St. Joseph’s Shelter during the Spanish Flu until November 9, 1918. She graduated from Marywood in 1921, and is listed as one of the faculty as Librarian, from 1923-1926. We also know she was stationed at St. Cecilia Academy in Scranton. We know little else about this Sister except that S. M. R. is actually Sister M. Rosina Byrne.

NOTE: In 2001 Sister Joan McCusker, I.H.M., Ph.D., composed the Anthem for Marywood University proclaiming the motto of the University: Sanctitas, Scientia, Sanitas (Holiness, Knowledge, Health).

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