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The Carmelites’ Musical Legacy—How Familiar Does It Sound?

Rommel N. Angara

Like any other educational institution, Mount Carmel College of Baler (MCCB) has an official
hymn which embodies its goals, ideals, and aspirations. A question, then, is worth asking: If you
call yourself a Carmelian, how well do you know “Mount Carmel Hymn”?
 
What Went Wrong?
I started to study at MCCB in 1993. I was a high school freshman then. One of the songs I
learned by heart then was “Mount Carmel Hymn.” My English-language teacher and music
teacher explained it in detail and taught us its lyrics thoroughly. We students were asked to be
conductors on several occasions when it had to be sung to the guitar accompaniment.
Sixteen years later, when I retraced my steps back to the college, I could not believe that
many grade school pupils, high school and college students did not know all the words to the
college hymn. When I underwent pre-service teacher training in the Integrated Basic Education
Department (IBED), I observed that faulty hymn charts had been posted on some classroom
walls. I also noticed that messed-up song lyrics appeared in printed programs for commencement
exercises.
 
Errors in Song Rendition
Here are the most common errors committed by many Carmelians in their rendition of the
college hymn, including the corrections to these errors and brief explanations about the
corrections made:
Incorrect: Correct:
Honor, worship let us pray Honor, worship let us pay
Name of glory, victory. Name of glory, victory.
The verb used in the original hymn is “pay,” not “pray.” In fact, the statement “Honor,
worship let us pay” (Line 5) is in the inverted order. If you convert it into its normal order, it
would be “Let us pay honor, worship.” To pay honor and worship is to show respect, courtesy, or
reverence. The idea is similar to that of the idiom “pay homage.” An observation is that many
Carmelians say “pray” because they wrongly associate it with “worship.”
Incorrect: Correct:
Dearest school, we’re proud of thee; Dearest school, we’re proud of thee;
Suffer not a step astray. Suffer not our steps astray.
Since the Carmelians speak in the song themselves, as implied by the personal pronoun
“we,” it is proper for them to say “our steps” instead of “a step.” Take note that there is not just
one but more than one speaker in the hymn. The pronoun “we” is plural, so it has to agree in
number with the noun “steps.” The line “Suffer not our steps astray” (Line 8) should, therefore,
be kept in mind.

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Incorrect: Correct:
We will stand and fight for thee, We will stand and fight for thee,
Might and hand and heart for thee. Might in hand and heart for thee.
The composer correctly used parallelism in “Might in hand and heart for thee” (Line 12)
with the pattern noun + preposition + noun + conjunction + noun + preposition + pronoun (noun
equivalent). There might be parallelism, too, in “Might and hand and heart for thee,” but the
repetition of the conjunction “and” between “might” (i.e. power or strength) and “hand” and
between “hand” and “heart” is no good.

The Hymn in Full Text


In fact, “Mount Carmel Hymn” consists of two sestets and a tercet. (A sestet is a six-line
stanza, whereas a tercet is a three-line stanza.) Its original, correct, and exact lyrics, with proper
punctuation, are as follows:
Mount Carmel Hymn
Hail Mount Carmel! Hail to thee!
We, thy children, sing today.
Loud we praise in song of glee.
One and all, we’ll faithful be.
Honor, worship let us pay
Name of glory, victory.
Dearest school, we’re proud of thee;
Suffer not our steps astray.
Nothing can thy pow’r withstand;
None can pluck us from thy hand.
We will stand and fight for thee,
Might in hand and heart for thee.
Dear Mount Carmel,
Love Mount Carmel,
Hail, hail to thee!
 
Songwriting Techniques Used
Obviously, the composer combined different techniques when he wrote the college hymn.
He employed poetic license (i.e. the right to deviate, for artistic effect, from the conventional
form) when he wrote “Loud we praise in song of glee” (Line 3) instead of “Loud we praise you
in a song of glee,” “Name of glory, victory” (Line 6) instead of “In the name of glory and
victory,” and “Might in hand and heart for thee” (Line 12) instead of “With might in hand and a
heart for thee.” He also contracted words when he wrote “we’ll” instead of “we will” in “One
and all, we’ll faithful be” (Line 4), “we’re” instead of “we are” in “Dearest school, we’re proud
of thee” (Line 7), and “pow’r” instead of “power” in “Nothing can thy pow’r withstand” (Line

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9). Besides, he used words with perfect end-rhymes when he wrote “Loud we praise in song of
glee. / One and all, we’ll faithful be” (Lines 3 and 4) and “Nothing can thy pow’r withstand; /
None can pluck us from thy hand” (not “hands”) (Lines 9 and 10).
 
The Songwriter
Since 1948, when Mount Carmel High School of Baler (MCHSB) (now MCCB) was
founded by the American Carmelite missionaries, “Mount Carmel Hymn” has been its official
hymn in which the Carmelians express their desire to “stand and fight” for their alma mater (Line
11). Who really composed this awe-inspiring musical piece remains a big mystery to me. My
assumption, however, is that the school pioneers, the Carmelites themselves, could have created
it, for its content highlights the Christian values they promoted, like optimism, as suggested by
the word “glee” (Line 3), solidarity, as implied by the phrase “one and all” (Line 4), and
faithfulness, as indicated by the clause “we’ll faithful be” (Line 4).

Songwriting as a Difficult Task


No doubt working on a musical composition is an arduous task, and a composer needs to
make several considerations before, while, and after working on it. Just imagine that the
composer or composers of the college hymn could have spent several hours, days, weeks, or
even months polishing it until he or they finally took pride in it as a masterpiece. What do you
think he or they would feel if after several years he or they learned that the song lyrics had been
altered?
 

To retain the original content and form of “Mount Carmel Hymn,” therefore, is to honor the
memory of the MCCB pioneers, the Carmelites. Such an act is but one way of introducing
yourself as a Carmelian at heart.

—Published in Tinta—The Carmelian Faces (official publication of the Higher Education


Department of Mount Carmel College of Baler), November 2013–March 2014, pp. 45–48

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