Sometimes there are no words.
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 every 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.
History of the Marines’ Hymn
The author of the words to the hymn is unknown. One tradition suggested that an unknown Marine wrote the words in 1847. This would have been 20 years before the music was written by Offenbach and is not likely. The first two lines of the first verse were taken from words inscribed on the Colors of the Corps.
After the war with the Barbary pirates in 1805 the Colors were inscribed with the words “To the Shores of Tripoli.” After Marines participated in the capture of Mexico City and the Castle of Chapultepec (also known as the Halls of Montezuma) in 1847, the words on the Colors were changed to read “From the shores of Tripoli to the Halls of Montezuma.” The unknown author of the first verse of the hymn reversed this order to read “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”
More at The United States Marine Band site.