Waving Song

Courtesy: okstate.com
A crowd at Gallagher-Iba Arena in 1964 joins in the waving song.
Victor Herbert was inadvertently responsible for a deeply entrenched facet of A&M athletic tradition, the waving song. His lyricist was speech instructor H.G. Seldy Seldombridge. In 1908, Seldombridge had gone to Columbia University to scout for a senior class play. While there, he heard In Old New York, the hit song from the operetta The Red Mill. Even New Yorkers were humming the song on city streets, and Seldombridge returned to Oklahoma humming it, too.

Shortly thereafter, he incorporated In Old New York into the closing number of a college follies show being rehearsed in Stillwater's Grand Opera House. But as he studied the stage decorated in orange and black for a campus scene, he realized that New York's praises were out of place for a southwestern college setting.

Suddenly OAMC flashed to my mind,? he explained in 1941. He asked the 30-voice choir to take a break, grabbed a piece of wrapping paper, hummed, and scribbled. In less than ten minutes he had the alternate lyrics that would enliven sports events long after opening night.

For that finale, a letterman representing each sport joined the chorus onstage. The students added their own memorable touch. They swayed and sang OAMC! OAMC! We'll sing your praise tonight, as they waved to the audience in unison.

It almost raised the roof off the old building, noted Seldombridge, who left the campus in 1910. Exhilarated, the crowd surged to its feet and returned the rhythmic wave. It took two encores before the campus and community gathering was willing to relinquish the emotion of the moment.

From that night on, you could frequently hear someone whistling the tune, he recalled, touched that OAMC's waving song was remembered as late as 1941.

The Waving Song

Oklahoma State! Oklahoma State!
We'll sing your praise tonight;
To let you know where e're we go,
For the Orange and Black we'll fight
We'll sing your worth o'er all the Earth
And shout: Ki Yi! Ki Ye!
In books of fame we'll write your name,
Oklahoma State!

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