Tune of the Day: The Marines' Hymn
The "Marines' Hymn" is the oldest official song in the United States military. It is typically sung at the position of attention as a gesture of respect, but is also used as a toast during formal events, such as the birthday ball and other ceremonies.
The music is from the Gendarmes' Duet from an 1867 revision of the 1859 opera Geneviève de Brabant by Jacques Offenbach, which debuted in Paris in 1859. Correspondence between Colonel Albert S. McLemore and Walter F. Smith (the second leader of the Marine Band) traces the tune:
Major Richard Wallach, USMC, says that in 1878, when he was in Paris, France, the aria to which the Marines' Hymn is now sung was a very popular one.
The name of the opera and a part of the chorus was secured from Major Wallach and forwarded to Mr. Smith, who replied:
Major Wallach is to be congratulated upon a wonderfully accurate musical memory, for the aria of the Marine Hymn is certainly to be found in the opera, 'Genevieve de Brabant'... The melody is not in the exact form of the Marine Hymn, but is undoubtedly the aria from which it was taken. I am informed, however, by one of the members of the band, who has a Spanish wife, that the aria was one familiar to her childhood and it may, therefore, be a Spanish folk song.
Thanks to Radford for suggesting this tune!