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Floreat Schola Taodunensis
(our School Song)
In 1834 the three schools of Dundee, the Grammar School, the English School and the Academy, were brought together in the new civic school building, known as the Dundee Public Seminaries, now known as the Pillars. However, despite occupying the same building, they retained their separate identities until 1859, when they were united by Royal Charter under the name the High School of Dundee.
Even after 1859, however, the institution retained its disparate character, and was ruled by nine largely independent ‘headmasters’ (Heads of Department). Because of a lack of agreement, no Rector was appointed to unite the three schools. It was therefore not until after the Scottish Education Act of 1872, then the Harris Endowment in 1882, when William Harris enabled the school to remain independent, that the first Rector was formally appointed in 1883.
The first incumbent, George Ross Merry, was born in Glasgow and attended the University. He then went on to complete an MA at Lincoln College, Oxford. He was a classicist. He became a schoolmaster at the Edinburgh Academy, whence he came to the High School as Rector.
The disparate and disunited nature of the High School at that time meant that there was little in the way of corporate identity or school spirit. He felt this was crucial and so set about to address this. Influenced by what he had experienced first at Oxford and then the Edinburgh Academy, he saw the value of what we now call co-curricular activities, such as sport and music, as well as a more modern approach to the curriculum, in developing young people. He worked hard to secure the acquisition of the Recreation Ground, for example, as Dalnacraig was originally known, thereby enabling school sport, particularly team sport, to take off, for girls as much as boys.
In addition, he also thought that in line with nearly all major schools, it was important to have a school song. And as a classicist he felt it appropriate to create one in Latin. He wrote what became known as Schola Clara and he asked the Music teacher of the time, David Ferrier, to provide the music. Interestingly, in this song he integrates the school very firmly into the mercantile context of the city of Dundee (Floreat mercatura), rather than seeing it as a stand-alone institution. Music unites, song even more so, and so by creating Schola Clara, George Merry helped forge that corporate bond which has brought High School pupils and FPs together for nearly 130 years since 1893.
Schola Clara Lyrics
Schola clara, hodie
Grato te laudemus
Nos alumni carmine,
Matrem quam fovemus.
Prisca nutrix militum
Vincla qui rupere
Scotis, et pro patria
Floreas, schola nobilis,
Aeternum sis mansura.
Mother School, thy children we
Hymn a grateful song to thee,
Thy fame and glory cherishing.
Ancient nurse of chivalry
Who burst the chains of tyranny,
For Scotland gladly dying.
To trade and commerce, to Dundee
Progress and Prosperity:
Noble School, good luck to thee
Now and to eternity.