Does Harvard wish to write the Puritans out of its history?

No. Contrary to media reports, Harvard does not wish to write Puritans out of its history.

As it currently stands, the final line of the alma mater completes a thought, exhorting listeners to pursue the truth until an imagined endpoint—the end of the Puritan lineage.

Let not moss-covered Error moor thee at its side,
As the world on Truth’s current glides by;
Be the herald of Light, and the bearer of Love,
Till the stock of the Puritans die.

This conclusion suggests that the commitment to truth, and to being the bearer of its light, is the special province of those of Puritan stock. This is false. We therefore launch this competition in the interests of truth itself. We launch it also in order to affirm that Harvard’s motto,Veritas, speaks to and on behalf of all members of our community, regardless of background, identity, religious affiliation, or viewpoint.

We can imagine a final line that both celebrates Harvard’s Puritan origins and conjures a future open to all. We can imagine other sorts of final lines too. The question is how to convey that our valued inheritance has passed on to all of us. We suspect that the quality of what we can imagine will not reach the heights of what members of our community will submit. We therefore look forward to your submissions.

Can a new line include a reference to the Puritans?

Yes. The charge of the competition is to produce a final line that connects the University’s valuable heritage (also invoked earlier in the alma mater) to a future in which that inheritance is passed on to all.

Is Harvard seeking to remove the word “Puritans” from the alma mater?

No. Harvard is seeking a final line that connects the University’s valuable heritage to a future in which that inheritance is passed on to all.

Who may enter?

Any individual member of the Harvard community—whether student, staff, academic personnel, or alumnus/a—or a group consisting of members of the Harvard community.

How do you enter?

The deadline for submissions was September 15, 2017.

For text only entries—you’ll simply submit the proposed line.

For text & music entries—you’ll submit the proposed line as well as a link to a YouTube video or public website of a performance of your music and, if pertinent, a score.

When you enter, you’ll be asked whether you would be available to perform your entry, or to have others perform your entry, whether with the traditional music or with new music. The viability of your entry will not depend on your availability for that date, but we do hope you’ll make an effort to make yourself(selves) available.

Can I enter more than once?

Yes you can! Competitors are free to submit more than once, but we ask that you use a new submission form for each entry so that we can keep track of them all. 

What’s the prize?

Eternal fame and the enduring gratitude of your fellow members of the Harvard community.