Get To Know the Meaning and History Behind the Marine Corps Hymn
Every branch of the military has its own hymn, song, or some kind of musical representation of who they are as a branch. The Marine Corps is no different. When you look at the Marine Corps hymn, the perfect song to put in the middle of a school band medley, you’ll find a pretty clear-cut explanation of what the branch does and their values.
Learn more about the hymn and its history below.
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Marine Corps Hymn Lyrics
Suffice it to say, lyrics are an important part of any song. Though they’re not the only important part, the lyrics to the Marine Corps hymn help clearly define the role of the Marine Corps within the DoD and the world at large.
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
of United States Marine.
Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in ev’ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
The Meaning Behind the Marine Corps Hymn
Of course, the Marine Corps hymn lyrics aren’t just arbitrary. Each line has meaning, and some meanings are more obvious than others.
In 1805, the First Barbary War, also known as the Tripolitan War, kicked off when America refused to continue paying tribute to pirate tyrants in the Barbary states. Thanks to a small detachment of Marines as well as hundreds of foreign allied mercenaries, this battle would become the first one in which the American flag was raised in victory on foreign ground. Hence, “To the shores of Tripoli.”
Later, in 1847, U.S. Marines aided in the capture of the Castle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American War. An estimated 90% of the Marines’ officer corps who fought there in Mexico were killed, but the U.S. reigned supreme in this battle and raised the American flag in place of the Mexican flag on top of the castle. Hence, “From the halls of Montezuma.”
The rest of the lyrics to the Marine Corps hymn are straightforward, giving generalized explanations of how the Marines serve their country and allies.
Marine Corps Hymn Instrumental
Wanna learn the hymn for yourself? The video below shows the Marine Corps hymn sheet music so you can follow along yourself. So, no matter how you wanna play the Marine Corps hymn – bagpipes, xylophone, didgeridoo – this is a great place to start studying up.
What Is the Name of the Marine Corps Hymn?’
Most people who talk about the song generally use the term “Marine Corps hymn.” Officially, however, the hymn is titled “Marines’ Hymn.” Simple yet efficient!
Marines’ Hymn History
Who wrote the Marine Corps hymn? Unfortunately, the exact answer to that question is lost to history. Many believe it was first written by a Marine who was serving in Mexico, but this has yet to be proven true.
What we do know, however, is where the melody came from. The tune to the Marines’ Hymn was actually taken from an opera written by Jacques Offenbach titled Genevieve de Brabant, a popular opera in Paris that was first performed in 1859.
By the mid-1800s, the Marines’ Hymn started to spread rapidly amongst service personnel. On August 19, 1891, the Marine Corps was given official copyright ownership of the song. In 1929, it was officially adopted as the song of the Marine Corps.
Though some of the beginnings of the song have been lost to history, we can still appreciate the meaning and history we do have for the Marine Corps hymn. And, of course, this song serves as a reminder for everyone, even other service members, to keep in mind the sacrifices and strength of our brave Marines.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement. Photo by Lance Cpl. Yuritzy Gomez Marine Corps Base Quantico