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May’s carillon tune from the tower of Goddard Chapel anticipates the joy of Commencement with the traditional commercium (academic song) “Gaudeamus Igitur.” Likely originating from a 1287 Latin manuscript, it is now commonly sung as a formal hymn at university graduation ceremonies the world over (despite its light-hearted and decidedly non-formal character). Indeed, it will be one of many traditional melodies ringing down from the tower on Tufts’ Commencement Day.

The lyrics convey the joy of student life while remembering that one day we will all eventually reach our earthly end. The melody commonly associated today was first published in 1782 (although widely known before then), and is quoted in the works of many classical composers — perhaps, most notably, in the final section of Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture.

Selected verses of the text, in the original Latin and in English translation by Mark Sugars, are here:

Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus.

Vivat academia!
Vivant professores!
Vivat membrum quodlibet;
Vivant membra quaelibet;
Semper sint in flores.

Alma Mater floreat,
Quae nos educavit;
Caros et commilitones,
Dissitas in regiones
Sparsos, congregavit.

While we’re young, let us rejoice,
Singing out in gleeful tones;
After youth’s delightful frolic,
And old age (so melancholic),
Earth will cover our bones.

Long live our academy,
Teachers whom we cherish;
Long live all the graduates,
And the undergraduates;
Ever may they flourish!

May our Alma Mater thrive,
A font of education;
Friends and colleagues, where’er they are,
Whether near or from afar,
Heed her invitation.

A recording can be found on Youtube.