The Book and Key Society: Installation Song

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

This article is part of my column, Last Century Today. The college was on spring break this week in 1918, so in lieu of Book and Key meeting minutes, here is their installation song, sung during the initiation of new members.

Our work now is over; ye seven draw nigh

And follow where leadeth the garnet on high.

Without o’er the campus spreads midnight’s deep gloom,

While here with full hearts ye your late vows assume.

The Praeces is waiting on you to bestow

The archives and vestments whose purpose ye know,

Your care ‘tis guard them while this year ensues,

Then pass to the seven whom ye duly choose.


The BOOK–sacred symbol of knowledge profound

Where treasures of heavenly wisdom abound,

Wherein hath been written that precept of old

To all mankind known as the precept of gold.

The KEY—hopeful symbol to all who desire

Deep knowledge to gain, and who truly aspire

To have that which opens to students sincere

The world’s hidden secrets which study makes clear.


In token that they their new duties accept,

And that all their vows will be faithfully kept,

The new chosen seven their vigil will keep

While all their companions are wrapt in deep sleep.

Approach then the altar, and view there displayed

The symbols whereon each his true vow hath made,

And be there invested with cap and with gown

Which we to your keeping now duly lay down.

Keton Kakkar ’20

Keton entered Swarthmore with the class of 2019 and graduated with the class of 2020. He double majored in English literature and computer science and was awarded Honors at commencement. A former editor of this newspaper, he was responsible for merging The Daily Gazette with The Phoenix, among other initiatives. He grew up in Sands Point, New York, completed the last two years of his secondary schooling at Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts, and is a member of the class of 2025 at the NYU School of Law.

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