The Old School Song

There was a tradition of a school song; I do not know how frequently that tradition is honoured in schools today. The tradition is singing a school song, usually one that no other school sings, on important school occasional  My old school, George Green’s in Poplar (well it was in Poplar when I went to it, had a school song that was very hard for me to sing,  and a difficult tune, but familiarity makes even a poor tune sound better.

“Now let us all with grateful hearts and gladsome voice acclaim our home of learning and the man you gave us name and fame”

These were not words that the good people of Poplar would use in their everyday speech. You have to imagine the words being sung in a cockney accent. However much some of us tried “our home” became “our ome” The man, of course, was the ship builder, George Green, who founded the school as an act of charity in 1828.

“Fidelter, Fideliter, we’ve blazoned on our shield, and we with hope and faith and trust will hold his foughten field”

We knew enough Latin to understand that Fideliter meant faith, which was our motto, notwithstanding that the school was originally founded to cater for children of all faiths. In 1828 there were serious divisions between the established church and the dissenting church, as well as divisions between Protestants and Catholics. That was an unusual founding principle, but one that still holds true today when George Green’s serves people of all religions, not just, as was the case in 1828, Christians and a few Jews.

“St George for Merrie England, Shout, a champion staunch and true”

The song digresses into Merrie England. I was written I think in the 1930s when Merrie England was a fashionable concept by a teacher who wrote the words. However, the digression is short and re-connects to the main theme.

“Our own good knight fought ignorance, St George for Poplar too!”

Today is St George’s day, and perhaps that set me thinking about the old school song and the act of charity of a man, nearly two hundred years ago, that helped me become less ignorant than I might have otherwise been.