The Origin of the Otterbein Love Song

Almost all Otterbein College graduates know of the Alma Mater (called "The Otterbein Love Song"), most know the words to the first verse, and a few even know the words to the second verse. Some will remember that the song was written by Glenn Grant Grabill and his wife, Celia Ihrig Grabill, both class of 1900. (We canít say í00 much longer.) The picture at the right is from the 1962 Sibyl, which was dedicated to the Grabills.

Apparently, however, very few people have heard the story of how that song came to be written. This story was told to my mother (Josephine Stoner Deever, x29) by Mrs. Grabill herself during the time in the late fifties when they were next door neighbors on Home St.

This event happened about 1918, some years after Mr. Grabill began teaching piano and organ at Otterbein in 1906. Mrs. Grabill was sitting up during the night watching over a child who was suffering through a childhood illness. We must remember, of course, that in those days before vaccines and antibiotics a childhood illness, though common, was a serious thing and could sometimes even prove fatal. As she sat in the upstairs bedroom and looked out through the trees of what was truly a quiet, peaceful village, seeing in the distance the towers of what we now call Towers Hall, the words of the Love Song came to her, and she wrote them down.

In the morning Mrs. Grabill showed her poem to her husband, Glenn, who, she said, immediately set it to music and then shared it with the community.

How this song came to be adopted as the alma mater was not part of Mrs. Grabillís story. If anyone can supply details of that part of it, I would like to hear.

The Otterbein Love Song

  In a quiet peaceful village,
There is one we love so true.
She ever gives a welcome
To her friends both old and new.
She stands serene
'Mid tree tops green
She's our dear Otterbein.

(Chorus) Old Otterbein, our college,
We sing of thee today;
Our memories round thee linger,
In a sweet and mystic way.
O Otterbein, we love thee,
Our hearts are only thine,
We pledge anew,
We will be true,
Dear Otterbein.

  Her halls have their own message
Of truth and hope and love;
She guides her youths and maidens
To the life that looks above.
Her stately tower
Speaks naught but power,
For our dear Otterbein.

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