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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Songs for Our Times

Over There

1. Listen

Listen: with Vocals
Billy Murray, Performer. 1917.
George M. Cohan, Composer.

Listen: Instrumental
United States Army Ground Forces Band, Performers.
George M. Cohan, Composer.

2. Read Lyrics

Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Take it on the run, on the run, on the run,
Hear them calling you and me,
Ev'ry son of liberty.
Hurry right away, no delay, go today,
Make your daddy glad to have had such a lad,
Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line.

Over there over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming,
The drums rum-tumming ev'rywhere
So prepare say a pray'r
Send the word, send the word to beware
We'll be over, we're coming over,
And we won't come back till it's over over there!

Johnnie get your gun, get your gun, get your gun,
Johnnie show the Hun you're a son of a gun,
Hoist the flag and let her fly,
Yankee Doodle do or die.
Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit,
Yankees to the ranks from the towns and the tanks,
Make your mother proud of you
And the old Red White and Blue.


3. Learn More

Listen: A Curator's Insights

When U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany in 1917, bringing the nation into the first World War, the American public wasn't entirely sure it wanted to send its soldiers "Over There." The U.S. had maintained a position of neutrality since hostilities broke out in Europe three years earlier. Once war was declared, however, public opinion shifted decisively in support of the president's decision, and a new wave of popular patriotic songs both reflected and contributed to that shift.

Anti-war songs, many of which had been extremely popular in previous years, vanished from the music racks. They were replaced by countless pro-enlistment and anti-German song sheets, some of which were accomplished works of popular art, but many of which were raw propaganda. These songs framed the war as a straightforward battle for liberty, as in the song "Liberty Bell, It's Time to Ring Again," and focused on the willingness of American soldiers to fight, as in "We're on Our Way to France." Dozens of songs were published ridiculing the German monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II, with titles such as "We're Going to Hang the Kaiser." The new songs were sung in musical theaters, in movie houses, in churches, and in homes across the U.S., but they were also popular among troops in Europe.

By the end of the war, the U.S. had sent more than 4 million troops to fight, and had played a decisive role in the Allied victory. Meanwhile, back at home, the advocates of the war had won the battle of popular opinion, with the help of American songwriters and publishers, and brought into being a new commitment to U.S. intervention in world affairs.


4. Rewrite the Song

1) First Name:

2) Last Name:

3) Title of New Song:

Verse 1 Read Lyrics


Verse 2