WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN

Original version

We are trav'ling in the footsteps
Of those who've gone before,
And we'll all be reunited,
On a new and sunlit shore,

Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

And when the sun refuse to shine
And when the sun refuse to shine
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the sun refuse to shine

And when the moon turns red with blood
And when the moon turns red with blood
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the moon turns red with blood

Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call
Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the trumpet sounds its call

Some say this world of trouble,
Is the only one we need,
But I'm waiting for that morning,
When the new world is revealed


The above lyrics refer to this song's original version. Read song history below. Check outs Bruce's live 25 Apr 2006 version for additional details.


Song history, taken from Wikipedia:

So well-known that it is often referred to merely as "The Saints", this song is an American gospel hymn that has taken on certain aspects of folk music. It is more likely to be encountered in a jazz session than in church.

The earliest incarnation of the hymn was as "When The Saints Are Marching In", published in 1896 in Cincinnati, OH, with music by James Milton Black and lyrics by Katharine Purvis. Already very similar to the contemporary song, the latter is obviously a derivative of it. Over the years, the song morphed to "When the Saints March In For Crowning" (1908), "When All the Saints Come Marching In" (1923), "When the Saints Go Marching Home" (1927), and finally "When The Saints Go Marching In" published in Nashville, TN, in 1927 for Edward Boatner's hymn book Spirituals Triumphant - Old And New.

Its most traditional use is as a funeral march. While accompanying the coffin to the cemetery, a band would play the tune as the Blues. On the way back from the interment, it would switch to the familiar upbeat Dixieland style.

Both vocal and instrumental renditions of the song abound. It has been recorded by Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, The Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley & His Comets (as "The Saint's Rock And Roll") and many other jazz and pop artists. It is known as "The Monster" by some Jazz musicians, as it seems to be the only tune many people know to request when seeing a Dixieland band, and some musicians dread being asked to play it several times a night. The musicians at Preservation Hall in New Orleans got so tired of playing it that the sign announcing the fee schedule ran $1 for standard requests, $2 for unusual requests, and $5 for "The Saints".

This well-known tune is also the theme/rallying song for a number of sports teams. It is used as the team's theme song or reserved for when they score. It is used with the standard lyrics, specialized lyrics, or no lyrics at all.

In football (in all its varieties), the teams using it include:
- New Orleans Saints (New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)
- Southampton Football Club (Southampton, England)
- St Johnstone Football Club (Perth, Scotland)
- Saint Joseph's Hawks (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
- St Mirren Football Club (Paisley, Scotland)
- St Helens RFC (St Helens, England)
- St Kilda Football Club (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
- St George Illawarra Dragons (Kogarah (Sydney), and Wollongong; New South Wales, Australia)

In Ice hockey, it is played by the St Louis Blues of the NHL when the team scores.

As previously noted, there is no "official" version of the song. This extends so far as confusion as to its name, with it often being mistakenly called "When The Saints Come Marching In", making it appear as if the saints are unsure whether they are coming or going. As for the lyrics themselves, their very simplicity makes it easy to generate new verses. Since the first, second, and fourth lines of a verse are exactly the same, and the third standard throughout, the creation of one suitable line in iambic tetrameter generates an entire verse.

It is impossible to list every version of the song, but the above may be considered as the most standard.

It is very not unusual for the first two words of the common third verse line ("Lord, how") to be rendered as either "Oh, Lord" or even "Lord, Lord."

The song is apocalyptic, taking much of its imagery from the Book of Revelation, but excluding its more horrific depictions of the Last Judgment. The verses about the Sun and Moon refer to solar and lunar eclipses, respectively, although these cannot actually occur simultaneously. The "trumpet" is that of the Archangel Gabriel. As the hymn expresses the wish to go to Heaven, picturing the saints going in (through the Pearly Gates), it is entirely appropriate for funerals.

Changes in the wording (eg: "And when the sun begins to shine") alters the meaning to a hope for a better world in the here and now.

The version performed by Haley (and others) removes most religious imagery in favor of references to musicians (i.e. "When that rhythm starts to go/I want to be in that number/When that rhythm starts to go.").