Annie Lisle

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"Annie Lisle" is an 1857 ballad by Boston, Massachusetts songwriter H. S. Thompson, first published by Moulton & Clark of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and later by Oliver Ditson & Co.[1] It is about the death of a young maiden, by what some have speculated to be tuberculosis, although the lyric does not explicitly mention tuberculosis, or "consumption" as it was called then; the song might have slipped into obscurity had the tune not been adopted by countless colleges, universities, and high schools worldwide as their respective alma mater songs.

Alma Maters[edit]

The first college to have used the tune in a spirit song seems to have been Cornell University. In 1870, students Archibald Weeks and Wilmot Smith wrote "Far Above Cayuga's Waters" and used an adaptation of Thompson's melody. Many other colleges, high schools, and even camps, likely influenced by Cornell's version, have since created their own renditions, including:

Sheet music for the alma mater of Cornell University, adopted from "Annie Lisle". Melody is on the second line.

× Negros Occidental High School, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines


Down where the waving willows
’Neath the sunbeams smile,
Shadow’d o’er the murm’ring waters
Dwelt sweet Annie Lisle;
Pure as the forest lily,
Never tho’t of guile
Had its home within the bosom
Of sweet Annie Lisle.
Wave willows, murmur waters,
Golden sunbeams, smile!
Earthly music cannot waken
Lovely Annie Lisle.
Sweet came the hallow’d chiming
Of the Sabbath bell,
Borne on the morning breezes
Down the woody dell.
On a bed of pain and anguish
Lay dear Annie Lisle,
Chang’d were the lovely features,
Gone the happy smile.
"Raise me in your arms, O Mother;
Let me once more look
On the green and waving willows
And the flowing brook.
Hark! the sound of angel music
From the choirs above!
Dearest mother, I am going;
Surely God is love."

In popular culture[edit]

  • The tune played as the Alma Mater of Springfield College on the TV show Father Knows Best, season 6, episode 8, "Margaret's Old Flame".
  • The tune is used in the parting song for the Kellerman Resort in the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, as well as the tune sung by the Purdue University students in the 1953 film Titanic.
  • The tune is played over the opening credits of the 1942 Merrie Melodies cartoon The Dover Boys at Pimento University.
  • The tune was featured in Hey Arnold! as the school song of PS-118
  • The tune was used for the Civil War battle song "Ellsworth's Avengers" [words by A. Lora Hudson, musical adaptation by S. L. Coe] paying tribute to Col. Elmer Ellsworth, the first Union officer killed in the conflict, he was shotgunned by the innkeeper after removing a confederate flag from the rooftop of an Alexandria, Virginia hotel.


  1. ^ Fuld, James J., The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk, 5th Ed. Courier Dove, 2000. ISBN 0-486-41475-2
  2. ^ "Bellevue High School Alma Mater"[permanent dead link]. Bellevue School District. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  3. ^ "Lovelady ISD Student Handbook" (PDF).

External links[edit]