Since 1874 many songs have been written about The Lambs, by Lambs, for The Lambs. The Whiffenpoof Song has been embraced by the Club and is sung after each event and gathering; We join our hands, raise our spirits and voices to the refrain.
The Whiffenpoof Song has been used since the early 1900’s by a group of a capella singers borne from Yale, called The Whiffenpoofs (aka The Whiffs). The song was written in 1909 by Meade Minnigerode, George S. Pomeroy and Judge Todd B. Galloway. The original words were, in part, based on Kipling’s poem “Gentlemen Rankers”; and the name ‘Whiffenpoof’ is based on a fantasy creature from Victor Herbert’s 1908 operetta, Little Nemo. Folklore has it that collegiate a capella singing in the United States began at Mory’s Temple Bar, a private club on the Yale Campus founded in 1849, where Louie, the proprietor, rewarded choral singing by Yale students with a round of drinks. The lyrics memorialize Louie, and the still operating Mory’s. Note: a capella is Latin for ‘of the chapel,’ where harmony singing was most prevalent. Collegiate a capella singing is making a big comeback, with the Whiff’s leading the way still singing The Whiffenpoof Song at the end of every concert; and still singing weekly at Mory’s. The Whiff’s have had some impressive members over the course of time including Vincent Price and President George W. Bush’s grandfather. See the Whiffenpoof’s web-page for a more detailed history on the Whiffs.
This Baa! Baa! Baa! song was recorded by many including the Fred Waring (a Lamb) Glee Club with Bing Crosby (the Waring group was a hugely popular chorale group for 30 years), and by Perry Como, Tex Beneke, Robert Merrill, Lamb Rudy Vallee, Elvis Presley and Louis Armstrong. Vallee first sang the song while at Yale and later popularized it in 1936. It was also featured in Winged Victory in 1944. Since Victor Herbert, Fred Waring and Rudy Vallee were all Lambs, it’s no wonder why the song was adopted by our Fold. Here is a recording of Bing Crosby singing the song, followed by the printed lyrics.
To the tables down at Morey’s,
to the place where Louie dwells,
to the dear old Temple Bar we love so well . . .
Sing the Whiffenpoofs assembled
with their glasses raised on high
and the magic of their singing casts its spell . . .
Yes, the magic of their singing
of the songs we love so well
“Shall I Wasting” and “Mavourneen” and the rest.
We will serenade our Louie
while life and voice shall last,
then we’ll pass and be forgotten with the rest . . .
We’re poor little lambs
who have lost our way,
Baa Baa Baa,
We’re little black sheep
who have gone astray
Baa Baa Baa.
Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
doomed from here to eternity,
Lord, have mercy on such as we,
Baa Baa Baa.