New school song debuts at Croquet
Junior Charles David Branan was the winner in the lyrics category of the Trevsian-Booker Prize, a contest to update the St. John’s school song. The award included a cash prize of $1,696, a nod to the college’s origins as the King William's School, founded in 1696. A music aficionado from Sandersville, Georgia, Branan is a member of the St. John’s Madrigal Choir, a group inspired by Renaissance polyphony. “Music is absolutely crucial to the Program,” says Branan. “It has influenced everything we study as well as the authors we read.” John Bonn, winner in the contest’s arrangement category and father of junior Tommy Bonn, emphasizes the value of music in a liberal arts education in saying, “Music pushes the mind and encourages abstract thought.”
The song debuted on the morning of the 30th annual St. John's-U.S. Naval Academy Croquet Match, with a performance by Branan and members of the St. John’s Chorus. As students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends joined together to sing, it was evident that the new song is about more than school pride, it also represents a “welcome home” for Johnnies everywhere.
While attending St. John’s in Annapolis during the 1980s, students Adrian Trevisan and Claiborne Booker, class of 1984, discovered a recording of the “St. John’s College March,” also called “St. John’s Forever,” the college’s original but little-known school song. Penned in 1911 by alumnus Robert Graham Moss, the tune recalls an era of generations past, though its expression of love and admiration for the college still rings true for Johnnies today.
On the occasion of the composition’s centenary, Trevisan and Booker thought it appropriate to update the song. “While we have many intellectual ways of sharing the virtues of St. John’s, we wanted to celebrate it in a more emotional way,” says Trevisan. “The song was appropriate for the St. John’s of 100 years ago, but we wanted to create something that allows Johnnies to sing the praises of the college today.” The long-time friends created the song contest to include winners in two categories: lyrics that are more relevant to the Program and an a cappella vocal arrangement suitable for a four-part (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone) chorus.