The words of the Alma Mater were written by Furman president Edwin McNeill Poteat [1903-1918] in 1907. According to Reid's Furman University: Toward a New Identity, 1925-1975, the words were first set to music to a tune adapted from Haydn, but eventually had their own tune, composed by the musical director of the Greenville Female College, H.W.B. Barnes.
"The verses describe a cozy college on a hillside, shaded by trees and lapped by a stream. In a metaphor of the college as a ship, the poem pays special tribute to James C. Furman and Charles H. Judson:
'Twas Furman's hand that laid her keel, And Judson set her ribs of steel.' " (pgs 28-29).
The Mountain City is her home,
A mountain river laves her feet,
But from far coasts her children come
And crown her brow with flowers sweet;
And 'neath her shade they rest secure,
And drink from wisdom's fountain pure,
Then rally, sons and daughters true,
'Round our dear Alma Mater.
A ship of royal make is she,
And brings her treasures from afar,
Her truth it is that makes us free,
And shines her beacon like a star.
'Twas Furman's hand that laid her keel,
And Judson set her ribs of steel,
The Fathers, prayerful for our weal,
Launched our dear Alma Mater.
A mother, gentle, fair and wise
And grave with weight of storied lore,
She greets us with love's radiant eyes,
And chains our hearts for evermore.
Old Furman! grateful heirs are we,
Our love, our lives we give to thee;
We'll keep faith's vow to serve but thee,
Our own dear Alma Mater.