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Home Texas Bexar County San Antonio John Lang Sinclair

John Lang Sinclair

  Texas Historical Markers
San Antonio, TX, USA
    Texas State
Historical Marker
     (November 26, 1879 - January 4, 1947) In 1899, John Lang Sinclair became a student at the University of Texas (UT) in Austin. The first UT band was formed in 1900 and Sinclair, possessing an aptitude for music, joined it as well as the Glee Club. The student head of the Glee Club, Lewis Johnson, urged Sinclair to write a school song in 1903. His first attempt was The Jolly Students of Varsity. His second, to the tine of I've Been Working on The Railroad, was The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You. UT President William L. Prather, formerly a student at Washington College (later Washington and Lee University), had often heard Robert E. Lee admonish his students, The Eyes of The South Are Upon You. Prather altered the saying for use at UT, and Sinclair borrowed it for his song. The Eyes of Texas, first performed at a minstrel show at Austin's Hancock Opera House to benefit the UT track team, was an instant success. Sinclair graduated in 1904 and returned to his family's dairy farm in eastern Bexar County. When Prather died in 1905, his family requested a performance of The Eyes of Texas at his funeral. Sinclair moved to New York City, where he and his wife, Stella Anderson of San Antonio (also a UT graduate) were active in the New York Texas Exes' Association. The song was so popular throughout the nation that many confused it with the official state song of Texas. After years of copyright battles, the UT acquired the rights to it in the 1980s. According to the university magazine The Alcalde, the chimes atop the UT tower played The Eyes of Texas during Sinclair's San Antonio funeral. Though he revised the words from the original version, the spirit of the song remained the same. Its popularity continues at the dawn of the 21st century. (2000)

This page last updated: 7/15/2008

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