Informant: Mamy Mbaye. 20 years old. From Senegal, attended Deerfield Academy (a boarding school in MA) with me. Student at Pomona College.
Collector: “What was your favorite part about Deerfield?”
Informant: “One of my favorite experiences at Deerfield was singing the Deerfield Evensong.
Collector: “Could you explain the experience as if I didn’t attend the school with you?”
Informant: “Of course! Okay, so at Deerfield, all the students and faculty gather for a sit down formal dinner every Sunday. We have assigned tables and the table is made up of ten students from every grade as well as one faculty member. Once dinner is over, the dean announces on the microphone to “please rise for the evensong.” A faculty member plays the piano and we all stand-up and sing in unison. The second to last verse is reserved for seniors and all the other students join in for the last verse. Once the song is over we all clap and leave the dinning hall. This song is very meaningful to me because it was part of my life for three formative years. When I was a senior during my last Sunday dinner, I cried while singing the senior verse. This song is so much more than a shared experience. It truly emphasizes my love for Deerfield. I really have such fond memories from there and I will forever cherish that bond.”
Words by Richard Warren Hatch
Music by Ralph Herrick Oatley
“Far beyond each western mountain
Gleam the fires of dying day;
Softly from each hidden fountain
Flows the river on its way.
All the valley lies in splendor
Hushed before the coming night;
From a hundred ancient windows
Flashes back the sunset’s light.
Now the meadow-wind’s soft whisper
Stirs the old elm’s silhouette,
Bends each leafy tower above us,
Caught in evening’s dusky net.
Now the day is done with striving;
Let the heart hold memory bright;
Soon these halls and fields we’re leaving—
Raise we song before the night.
Let the circling night be softened
By the ember’s last faint glow;
In the firelight we will gather
Bound by song before we go.
Deerfield Days are days of glory,
Memory lives in every one;
Let no other name be spoken
Till the even-hour is done.”
Thoughts: Mamy and I graduated from Deerfield at the same time. As she mentions, this song is very meaningful in our lives. I didn’t cry while singing the senior verse, but it was a very emotional experience to sing it one last time. The song is beautifully written and encompasses the shared spirit of pride.