The Corps

Words by: Bishop Herbert S. Shipman

Music by: W. Franke Harling

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The Corps, The Corps, The Corps

The Corps bareheaded, salute it
With eyes up thanking our God
That we of the corps are treading
Where they of the corps have trod

They are here in ghostly assemblage
The men of the corps long dead
And our hearts are standing attention
While we wait for their passing tread

We sons of today, we salute you
You sons of an earlier day
We follow close order behind you
Where you have pointed the way

The long grey line of us stretches
Through the years of a century told
And the last man feels to his marrow
The grip of your far off hold

Grip hands with us now, though we see not
Grip hands with us strengthen our hearts
As the long line stiffens and straightens
With the thrill that your presence imparts

Grip hands, though it be from the shadows
While we swear as you did of yore
Or living or dying to honor
The Corps, and The Corps, and The Corps


From the 1947 Bugle notes:
Companion piece to the "Alma Mater" and equally beloved in the hearts of all graduates is the inspirational and poetically great hymn "The Corps." The words were written by the late Bishop H. S. Shipman, then chaplain, sometime around the U.S.M.A. Centennial in 1902. The music, not composed until 1910, was written by W. Franke Harling, Chapel Organist and Choirmaster. This music was especially composed for the services of the closing of the old Cadet Chapel, held on June 12, 1910. Due to a series of reasons the hymn sung for the first time on the steps of the old Cadet Chapel failed to make an impression. In a similar manner to which the "Alma Mater" was to be accepted the following year, "The Corps" became a part of the West Point tradition at the Baccalaureate Service of the Class of 1911.

From the liner notes of the West Point Music record album (courtesy Lew Higinbotham '62):
One Sunday in 1903 the late "Beloved Bishop" Herbert Shipman, then Chaplain at West Point, mounted the pulpit of the Old Cadet Chapel and to a deeply moved congregation first read the mighty stanzas of his poem "The Corps". Appearing for the first time in print in the 1904 Howitzer, its score was not composed until 1910 when W. Franke Harling, Organist and Choirmaster in that year, set the words to music.


Hallowed Ground by P. Buckley Moss

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