A directive that the Navy's theme song be played before the "Marine Corps Hymn" at all Marine ceremonies is hitting a sour note with some members of a military branch that bills itself as second to none.

" 'Anchors Aweigh' is a nice song and all, but that's the Navy," complained one Marine officer. "We don't need to make our own song second-fiddle."

But like it or not, the Marine Corps' commandant has decreed that the Navy's "Anchors Aweigh" must be played before the "Marine Corps Hymn" at all parades and ceremonies.

Gen. Alfred M. Gray, the corps' new commandant, distributed a one-page directive two weeks ago to all Marine posts announcing the change in musical precedence.

His directive was brief and to the point.

"For 212 years, Marines and sailors have served, fought and died side-by-side. In virtually every command today, Marines continue to serve with their Navy counterparts. To reflect this brotherhood in arms, effective this date, 'Anchors Aweigh' will be played immediately prior to the 'Marine Corps Hymn' at all parades and ceremonies."

Gray's directive, however, is apparently filtering through the chain of command slowly.

A brass quintet from the Quantico Marine Base appeared at a ceremony in the Pentagon Tuesday marking the corps' 212th birthday. Assorted dignitaries were on hand, including Gray and Navy Secretary James H. Webb Jr.

The program prominently stated that "Anchors Aweigh" and the "Marine Corps Hymn" would be played at the conclusion.

But the ceremony ended with the quintet immediately launching into the familiar Marine refrain: "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli . . . . "