"WHEN THE SAINTS GO MARCHING IN", often referred to as "THE SAINTS",
is an American gospel hymn . Though it originated as a Christian hymn
, it is often played by jazz bands. This song was famously recorded on
May 13, 1938 by
Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra. The song is
sometimes confused with a similarly titled composition "When the
Saints Are Marching In" from 1896 by
Katharine Purvis (lyrics) and
James Milton Black (music).
* 1 Uses
* 2 Lyrics
* 3 Analysis of the traditional lyrics
* 4 Artists who have performed and recorded the song
* 4.1 As gospel hymn
* 4.2 With traditional lyrics
* 4.3 With non-traditional lyrics
* 4.4 With no lyrics
* 4.5 Popular culture
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 External links
The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs, a painting by
Fra Angelico , 15th century.
The origins of this song are unclear. It apparently evolved in the
early 1900s from a number of similarly titled gospel songs including
"When the Saints Are Marching In" (1896) and "When the Saints March In
for Crowning" (1908). The first known recorded version was in 1923 by
the Paramount Jubilee Singers on Paramount 12073. Although the title
given on the label is "When All the Saints Come Marching In", the
group sings the modern lyrics beginning with "When the saints go
marching in". No author is shown on the label. Several other gospel
versions were recorded in the 1920s, with slightly varying titles but
using the same lyrics, including versions by The Four Harmony Kings
(1924), Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers (1924), Wheat Street Female
Bo Weavil Jackson (1926), Deaconess Alexander (1926),
Rev. E. D. Campbell (1927), Robert Hicks (AKA
Barbecue Bob , 1927),
Blind Willie Davis (1928), and the
Pace Jubilee Singers (1928).
The earliest versions were slow and stately, but as time passed the
recordings became more rhythmic, including a distinctly up tempo
version by the Sanctified Singers on British
Parlophone in 1931. Even
though the song had folk roots, a number of composers claimed
copyright in it in later years, including
Luther G. Presley and
Virgil Oliver Stamps ,
R.E. Winsett , and Frank and Jim McCravy.
Although the song is still heard as a slow spiritual number, since the
mid-20th century it has been more commonly performed as a "hot"
number. The tune is particularly associated with the city of New
Orleans. A jazz standard , it has been recorded by a great many jazz
and pop artists.
Both vocal and instrumental renditions of the song abound. Louis
Armstrong was one of the first to make the tune into a nationally
known pop tune in the 1930s. Armstrong wrote that his sister told him
she thought the secular performance style of the traditional church
tune was inappropriate and irreligious. Armstrong was in a New Orleans
tradition of turning church numbers into brass band and dance.
As with many numbers with long traditional folk use, there is no one
"official" version of the song or its lyrics. This extends so far as
confusion as to its name, with it often being mistakenly called "When
the Saints Come Marching In". As for the lyrics themselves, their very
simplicity makes it easy to generate new verses. Since the first and
second lines of a verse are exactly the same, and the third and fourth
are 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 a common
standard version runs: Oh, when the saints Go marching in Oh, when
the saints go marching in Oh how I want to be in that number When the
saints go marching in Oh, when the drums begin to bang Oh, when the
drums begin to bang I want to be in that number When the saints go
marching in Oh, when the stars fall from the sky Oh, when the stars
fall from the sky I want to be in that number When the saints go
marching in Oh, when the moon turns red with blood Oh, when the moon
turns red with blood I want to be in that number When the saints go
marching in Oh, when the trumpet sounds its call Oh, when the
trumpet sounds its call I want to be in that number When the saints go
marching in Oh, when the horsemen begin to ride Oh, when the
horsemen begin to ride I want to be in that number When the saints go
marching in Oh, when the fire begins to blaze Oh, when the fire
begins to blaze I want to be in that number When the saints go
marching in Oh, when the saints go marching in Oh, when the saints
go marching in I want to be in that number When the saints go marching
Often the first two words of the common third verse line ("Lord, how
I want...") are sung as either "Oh how", "Oh, Lord" or even "Lord,
Lord" as cue notes to the simple melody at each 3rd line.
Arrangements vary considerably. The simplest is just an endless
repetition of the chorus. Verses may be alternated with choruses, or
put in the third of 4 repetitions to create an AABA form with the
verse as the bridge.
One common verse in "hot"
New Orleans versions runs (with
considerable variation) like thus: I used to have a playmate Who
would walk and talk with me But since she got religion She has turned
her back on me.
Some traditional arrangements often have ensemble rather than
individual vocals. It is also common as an audience sing-along number.
Versions using call and response are often heard, e.g.: CALL: Oh when
the Saints RESPONSE: Oh when the Saints!
The response verses can echo the same melody or form a counterpoint
melody, often syncopated opposite the rhythm of the main verses, and a
solo singer might sing another counterpoint melody (solo soprano or
tenor ) as a 3rd part in more complex arrangements.
ANALYSIS OF THE TRADITIONAL LYRICS
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; the trumpet (of the
Archangel Gabriel ) is the way in which
Last Judgment is announced. 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.
ARTISTS WHO HAVE PERFORMED AND RECORDED THE SONG
AS GOSPEL HYMN
* First recorded by the Paramount Jubilee Singers on Paramount
12073, mid-November 1923. This group may be related to the
Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers.
* Four Harmony Kings, Vocalion 14941, mid-November 1924.
* Elkins-Payne Jubilee Singers, Okeh 8170. c.November 24, 1924.
Bo Weavil Jackson , c. August 1926 in Chicago, IL, under the
title "When the Saints Come Marching Home", Paramount 12390
* Recorded by bluesman
Sleepy John Estes accompanied by second
guitar and kazoo for
Bluebird Records in Chicago, 1941
* This song is available in the
Elvis Presley compilation Peace in
the Valley: The Complete Gospel Recordings. Sony BMG/Elvis Music
WITH TRADITIONAL LYRICS
Louis Armstrong helped make The Saints into a jazz standard with
his 1938 Decca recording.
* The tune was brought into the early rock and roll repertory by
Fats Domino as one of the traditional
New Orleans numbers he often
played to rock audiences. Domino would usually use "The Saints" as his
grand finale number, sometimes with his horn players leaving the stage
to parade through the theater aisles or around the dance floor.
Judy Garland sang it in her own pop style.
Elvis Presley performed the song during the Million Dollar Quartet
jam session and also recorded a version for his film, Frankie and
* Other early rock artists to follow Domino's lead included Jerry
Lee Lewis and
Tony Sheridan (featuring then-unknown band The Beatles
as a backing group).
* In 1990,
John Rutter arranged a lively version of the song for the
Cambridge Singers, piano or organ accompaniment, and a Dixieland
jazz-style clarinet obbligato .
Tears For Fears performed the song and on the Live from Santa
Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour includes the
song as an encore for some shows.
Etta James performed the song during the 1984 Summer Olympics
Dolly Parton has also included the song in a gospel medley, as has
Trini Lopez in a mixed gospel/folk medley (
Trini Lopez at PJ\'s )
The Rivieras performed a surf music version for their 1964 album
Let\'s Have A Party , titled "When The Saints".
Hal Linden performed the song with Dr. Teeth and the
Electric Mayhem during his guest appearance on
The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show .
St. Lawrence University
St. Lawrence University sports teams use it as their theme song.
* The Weavers
Kidsongs Kids perform this song on their 1989 video A Day at
Camp during the grand finale of the Sizzling Summer Revue.
* In a
Wee Sing 1992 video, The Marvelous Musical Mansion, Alex,
Kelly, Benji, Auntie Anabella, Great-Uncle Rubato and everybody else
sing this song to celebrate.
WITH NON-TRADITIONAL LYRICS
Louis Armstrong and
Danny Kaye performed a comedy duet version in
the 1959 film
The Five Pennies , naming composers and musicians who
would play "on the day that the saints go marching in".
Woody Guthrie sang a song called "When The Yanks Go Marching In"
* In 1983,
Aaron Neville , along with
New Orleans musicians Sal and
Steve Monistere and Carlo Nuccio and a group of players for the New
American football team, recorded a popular version of
the song incorporating the team's "
Who Dat? " chant.
* French group Dionysos 's album La Mécanique du cœur (2007, The
Mechanic of the Heart) contains a version of this song, in
collaboration with the French singer
Arthur H .
* Many supporters of association football teams sing versions of the
song, "Saints" is often replaced with the name or nickname of the
club, for example, "When the Saints Go Marching In" (St Johnstone )
and (Southampton F.C ), "When the Reds Go Marching In (Liverpool FC
)", "When the Posh Go Steaming In" (
Peterborough United FC ), "When
the Spurs Go Marching In" (Tottenham Hotspur) or "When the Stripes Go
Marching In", as a rally song during football matches.
* It is also used within
Rugby Union where
Northampton Saints sing a
traditional version of the song.
St Kilda Football Club
St Kilda Football Club , an
Australian rules football
Australian rules football club use
a variation as their theme song. The main variation being in the
chorus 'oh how I want to be in St Kilda'.
Bill Haley & His Comets
Bill Haley & His Comets released a rock and roll version (with
lyrics referencing the members of the Comets) in 1955 on Decca
Records, entitled "The Saints Rock and Roll". The group also recorded
new versions of the song for Orfeon Records in 1966 and Sonet Records
in 1968, as well as numerous live versions.
* Japanese voice actress
Kotono Mitsuishi performed a cover in 1995.
The Rock-afire Explosion
The Rock-afire Explosion of
ShowBiz Pizza Place covered the song
in the "New Years Eve '82" showtape, sung by Fatz Geronimo (Burt "Sal"
Wilson), with new lyrics naming off every member of the band.
WITH NO LYRICS
* The 1958 rock and roll instrumental song "
Rebel Rouser " by Duane
Eddy was loosely based on this tune.
* The rhythm of "When the Saints Go Marching In" was adapted by Dick
Four Star Television for its legal drama , The Law and Mr.
James Whitmore , which ran on ABC from 1960-1962.
* Big Chief Jazzband recorded the tune in
Oslo on May 10, 1953. It
was released on the
78 rpm record His Master\'s Voice A.L. 3307.
Al Hirt released a version on his 1963 album, Our Man in New
Orleans and was also featured on his greatest hits album, The Best
Al Hirt .
Harry James released a version on his 1972 album Mr. Trumpet.
Longines Symphonette Society SYS 5459/LS 217C/LS 217U)
* It was recorded under the title of "Revival" by Johnny and the
Hurricanes . The band's management claimed authorship.
* A portion of the song was also used in the "boss" music of the
"Out of This Dimension" Easter egg stage in the game Star Fox for the
* A techno remix of this song, titled "Saints Go Marching," is a
playable song in some versions of
Dance Dance Revolution
Dance Dance Revolution .
* The song has been used as a fight song for many schools, including
Providence College and Saint Joseph\'s University . The Baylor
University Golden Wave Marching band plays the song during Baylor
football games right after a touchdown is scored. The song is also the
inspiration for the nickname of the
New Orleans Saints .
* The musical
Urinetown includes a parody homage of "Saints"
entitled "Run, Freedom Run" as its protest theme.
* An arrangement of "When the Saints Go Marching In" is also the
official march of the Royal Hälsinge Air Force Wing (F 15 Söderhamn
* A New Orleans-style instrumental of this song titled "The Saints
Will Never Come" is heard in The Parish level of
Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2 ,
coming from a parade float attached to a tractor.
* The song was the inspiration for the name of the National Football
League team the
New Orleans Saints . The version sung by Fats Domino
is used as the team's touchdown song.
* The children's television show Barney -webkit-column-width: 30em;
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* ^ "Music History for May 13 from On-This-Day.com".
* ^ A B CyberHymnal: http://hymntime.com/tch/htm/w/s/a/wsamarch.htm
* ^ James J. Fuld, The Book of World-Famous Music, Classical,
Popular and Folk, Fourth Edition, 1995
* ^ Robert M. W. Dixon, John Godrich, & Howard Rye,
Gospel Records 1890-1943, Fourth Edition, 1997
* ^ "LUTHER PRESLEY COLLECTION". 31 July 2007. Archived from the
original on 31 July 2007.
* ^ "When the Saints Go Marching In" arranged by Luther G. Presley
& Virgil O. Stamps, Starlit Crown (Pangburn, AR: Stamps-Baxter Music
* ^ Ruth Winsett Shelton, editor. Best Loved Songs and Hymns
(Dayton, TN: R. E. Winsett Music Company, 1961), Item 158.
* ^ Robert M.W. Dixon, John Godrich, & Howard Rye,
Blues and Gospel
Records 1890-1943, Fourth Edition, 1997.
* ^ Tim Brooks, Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording
Industry 1890-1919 (2004), 457-458.
* ^ "Paramoung 12000 series numerical listing (1922–1927)".
www.78discography.com. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
* ^ "Sam Butler/
Bo Weavil Jackson discography". wirz.de. Retrieved
September 13, 2015.
* ^ Illustrated
Sleepy John Estes discography
* ^ Noble, Barnes &. "Peace In The Valley: The Complete Gospel
Recordings/I\'ll Be Home For Christmas".
* ^ SpiritOf84 (6 September 2014). "Los Angeles 1984 Olympic
Opening Ceremony Complete" – via YouTube.
* ^ Dave Walker, "\'Who dat?\' popularized by
New Orleans Saints
fans when \'everybody was looking for the sign\'",
January 12, 2010, pp. A1, A10 (Saint Tammany Edition).
* ^ Listen to When The Reds Go Marching In football song. Stoke MP3
FIFA 13 SCFC chant. Fanchants.co.uk. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
* ^ Listen to Oh When The Spurs Go Marching In football song. Spurs
MP3 FIFA 13 THFC chant. Fanchants.co.uk. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
* ^ ClassicTVThemes, The Law and Mr. Jones:
* ^ Al Hirt, Our Man in
New Orleans Retrieved April 10, 2013.
* ^ Al Hirt, The Best of
Al Hirt Retrieved April 11, 2013.
* ^ "Johnny and the Hurricanes".
* ^ Sandberg, Bo (2007). Försvarets marscher och signaler - För
och nu. Uppsala: Militärmusiksamfundet med Svenskt Marscharkiv. ISBN
978-91-631-8699-8 . Viewed 2012-05-09 (in Swedish).
* ^ Gretchen Marie-Goode, "Walk Around The Block With Barney",
Hartford Courant , May 6, 1999.