The Nittany Lion (song)

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"The Nittany Lion" is a traditional fight song played by the Penn State Blue Band at football games and other sporting events. During the pre-game show of home football games at Beaver Stadium, it is part of the traditional Lion Fanfare and Downfield. While it is not the official fight song of Penn State, it is one of the songs most widely associated with the university, and is also incorrectly referred to as "Hail to the Lion" (or Lions). On Fridays and Saturdays, the clock tower in Penn State's Old Main plays a line of the chorus music at the fifteen-minute mark of each hour, and adds a line every 15 minutes until the whole chorus is played on the completion of the hour.


"The Nittany Lion" was written by Penn State graduate and former Glee Club member James Leyden between 1922 and 1924. Professor Hummel Fishburn and Blue Band Bandmaster Tommy Thompson assisted Leyden in finishing the song, which was premiered at a pep rally the night before a football game to instant popularity.

The second verse was used prior to 1993, when Penn State was a IA Independent school. When it joined the Big Ten athletically in 1993, the third verse, The Big Ten verse, was written. Currently the Blue Band performs the first and third verse of The Nittany Lion.


Every college has a legend,

Passed on from year to year,

To which they pledge allegiance

And always cherish dear.

But of all the honored idols,

There’s but one that stands the test,

It’s the stately Nittany Lion,

The symbol of our best.

- Chorus -

Hail to the Lion, Loyal and True.

Hail Alma Mater, with your White and Blue.

Penn State forever, Molder of men,

Fight for her honor, Fight, and Victory again.

Indiana has its Hoosiers,

Purdue its gold and black.

The Wildcats of Northwestern

And Spartans on attack.

Ohio State has its Buckeyes,

Up north the Wolverines.

But the mighty Nittany Lion's,

The best they’ve ever seen.

- Chorus -

There’s Pittsburgh with its Panther,

and Penn her Red and Blue,

Dartmouth with its Indian,

and Yale her Bulldog, too.

There’s Princeton with its Tiger,

and Cornell with its Bear.

But speaking now of victory,

We’ll get the Lion’s share.

- Chorus -

(Roger Williams composed the following "fourth" verse to include all members of the Big Ten Conference. This verse is commonly sung by the Penn State Glee Club, but is not played on the field by the Penn State Blue Band, making it much less known than the previous three.)

Minnesota has its Gophers,

Illini with their Spear,

The Badgers of Wisconsin,

And Iowa--never fear!

The Big Ten is our conference:

The nation's best by far.

And the Penn State Nittany Lion's,

The Big Ten's shining star!

- "Chorus" -

See also[edit]


  • Range, Thomas E.; Sean Patrick Smith (1999). The Penn State Blue Band: A Century of Pride and Precision. Penn State Press. p. 232. ISBN 0-271-01960-3. 

External links[edit]