I knew it had its roots in Gospel Music, but believe it or not I never took heed of most of the lyrics.

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 in.

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[citation needed]:

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.

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 the 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.

The first one is an oldie, yet awesome. Paul is definitely on Mary Jee Wanna

This is a well done eye-opening look at what happens to us all. Some less fabulously than others 😀

Here’s a new song I am working on. I stole the title. I was going through a bunch of old cassettes and I found one from one of the many many drunken nights spent at my friend Rod’s house…exploring his piano, guitars, recording gear, food and other sundries. It had a song he was writing called ‘Like a Moth to a Flame’. I didn’t steal any of the music, but that phrase captured me. I might steal some of his lyrics though 😀

7/30 Update – I added a funky swirling Vibraphone thingy in the middle with a little Real ADT on it. Also a Battery kick and tambourine, and a piano.