The Nil Sine Labore song is in tribute to two past Victorian teachers whom I never met, but who converted me to be a Victorian-for-life on the very first day I stepped into Victoria and heard their song for the first time – Mr W.E. Meyer who composed the music and Mr J.I.A Frazer who wrote the lyrics of our beloved Victorian Anthem.
It is their song, with its stirring melody and powerful lyrics, that magically evokes and perpetuates the immortality of the Victorian spirit and unite Victorian hearts. It is this timeless song that “haunts” me to this day, and it is to the credit of these two gentlemen that I was inspired to compose the Nil Sine Labore song.
I dedicate this new Victorian song, Nil Sine Labore to Mr W.E. Meyer and Mr J.I.A Frazer, in my inadequate attempt to reciprocate what they have given to so many generations of Victorians – The Victorian Anthem – the most beautiful song I know.
Lim Eng Chong
Words & Music by Lim Eng Chong
For a hundred years and more,
There’s a school in Singapore,
Where the spirit of triumph soar.
And Victorian voices roar:
“Victoria is something more!”;
Oh , a school we so adore.
It’s a school that watch’d us grow,
As Victorians we learn to glow;
You teach us to be strong,
Victorians labour on,
In sunshine or in rain,
If we fall, we rise up again.
We are …
Victorians we’ll always be;
Victoria for evermore.
We are …
Victorians all the way;
Victoria, Victoria …
Nil Sine Labore
Click here to watch the Nil Sine Labore Song on Youtube.
VICTORIA AT SIGLAP
I have seen you at the break of day,
Trooping into the early sun, looking eager
While digesting Nil Sine Labore. Like we did,
That dictum for young scholars, who are among
The kernels of our nation. Think, feel and dream
Brave new worlds, tryst with the unfamiliar, merge
Curiosity and fun; invent and whistle a sweet refrain.
Nothing new in this. Just like us, when together
You challenge and consume your days with fire,
Leaving voices and footfalls to echo your time,
Your place. Ours were troubled by krruumps of war,
Insurrection, change of rulers who brokered peace
To feed their ambition, appetite; alleged destiny.
We nurtured the shards that came with a small
‘59 freedom by gradual moves within ourselves and
Toward each other; re-making both land and peoples.
A founding will, a vision, a gathering, still custodial.
These of our past you inherit; knead into your future.
Where you tread on the shadow of shrub and tree
And feel the breeze gather its vowel, there the sea kept
Vigil; its blue tide a covenant, a promise. As Victoria
Always has, fulfilling. Your precincts, buildings, floors,
Class-rooms, labs; those special places to discover friends,
Teachers, and HODs, are all designed, specific, modern.
To put tomorrow into your grasp. Invoke and make it ours.
For the world is now a keyboard, linked to competition.
We compute, manage. The way ahead is to be ahead.
Walking among you the other day, I felt my Chemistry,
Maths, and favorite poems return. Bookish memories.
Yours will be a screen boosted by micro-chips; and the great
Unknown. We climb stairs, turn corners; catch a lift;
Move from point to point, getting to the seventh floor.
As we look out to sea from neat Hostel rooms,
Across the sunlight in the straits, three generations knew
That when you move, you take us all with you.
Professor Edwin Thumboo
SC Class of ‘51
Nil sine labore.
We felt but did not grasp
That truth, until the years.
The changing age confirmed severely:
Nothing without labour,
Nothing is for free.
You grew us well,
Mother of our youth,
Gave grave to toughness,
Tuned mind and feeling.
Our teachers scolded out of love.
We loved them with the fevour
That only mischief has.
We learnt quarrelled laughed,
Little enemies, great friends
In classroom lab assembly
Below the arches of the Hall.
Upon the tower built by Amin
Bock Hai and their scouting gang.
We shared ourselves, so
Found ourselves: Henry Aziz Boey
Soon Khiang Beng Keng Peter Poh
Guan Noordin Eric Heng Goe
Dhanabalan Teo Yong Chua Seng,
Among the intricacies of calculus,
Adverbial phrase, The Rover,
There was the steadying of the eye
As a though struck deep with beauty,
Or growing symmetry, sudden revelation
We did not feel the day go by
The faces appear each year
Along the corridors to labour, love,
Learn, They too will know
That here our better youth was spent,
That what we are was seeded then.
We do not return to you, mother,
Because we never really left.
Professor Edwin Thumboo
VS 1948 - 1953
Poem composed in 1980 for the Old Victorians' Association.