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What’s in a Song?



Story written by Kelly Derickson as told by Pete White, Gettysburg, ’59

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. –Bob Marley

One of the highlights of my position with Phi Delta Theta is the opportunity I have to communicate with alumni worldwide. Most of the calls are simple requests, like, ‘What is my Bond #?” “I’m calling to report a Chapter Grand. “We are planning a class reunion, would you please send me the latest alumni list?’

This morning I received such a call. Karen, our receptionist extraordinaire, put through an alumnus from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. A kind sir named “Pete White, class of ’59.” While he was on hold, waiting to be patched through to my line, he was being serenaded by our soundtrack of Phi songs, recorded long ago. The song playing was ‘Eternal Praise.’

Often, when I pick up calls, I will catch an alumnus that has been completely drawn back in and is singing all out along with the soundtrack. Though I didn’t catch Pete singing along, he shared a wonderful tale about how much the singing of Eternal Praise means to him.

He said that several years ago he learned that the art and practice of singing Phi Delta Theta songs had gone by the wayside at Gettysburg. He was dismayed. So rather than letting it go, he took action and began working with the new member class, encouraging them to learn the songs, particularly, Eternal Praise, his favorite. To his great pleasure, the new member class responded and they’ve been singing ever since.

But the endearing part of this story is this next part. His wife had a setback in 2013 when she broke her hip. He was spending hours at the hospital staying with her during her surgery and recovery. So he was surprised to get a text message from the Pennsylvania Beta Chapter. He scanned the message and saw a picture of the guys. Then he realized they had also sent a recording. He clicked to listen and he was delighted to hear the opening bars of Eternal Praise, being sung by the current PA Beta Phis, to encourage him during his wife’s tough times.

As he shared this story, he said this recollection still brings tears to his eyes. The simple act of teaching a song has gone on to be a steady encouragement to him, and he hopes, his chapter.

I must say that his story made my heart grow and I just knew that this was one of those moments that remind me that this Fraternity for whom I work daily, is a Fraternity for life. The heartbeat is its members, and the blood is the flow between alumni, undergraduates, volunteers and staff. I’ve been humming Eternal Praise since.


“Come, brothers, let us raise a toast,
To the pin we love the most;
To sword and shield we’ll loyal be,
In defeat or victory.
To our colors white and blue,
We will be forever true;
To Phi Delta we’ll always raise
Voices of Eternal Praise.”

To hear a rendition online, click here.