The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #7003   Message #2116046
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
31-Jul-07 - 08:11 PM
Thread Name: Origins: When the Saints Go Marching In
Subject: RE: WHEN THE SAINTS
Azizi reports commonly heard comments about the song, which cannot be verified in written sources.

In error, Fuld and others confuse the well-known song with the white gospel "When the Saints Are Marching In," 1896, J. M. Black copyright (unfortunately the deposit copy apparently is lost). This gospel song is entirely different from the New Orleans and world favorite.
Black published his song in a gospel songbook he edited in the same year, 1896. A midi may be heard at Cyberhymnal.
Black's version was reprinted by Ira D. Sankey et al. in "Sacred Songs No. 1, for Use in Gospel Meetings," also 1896.
These white gospel books were printed in large quantities.


"When the Saints..." was reported from the Bahamas in 1917, and was recorded by the Paramount Jubilee Singers in 1923.

Anecdote places the tune as a funeral song at the beginning of the 20th c. in New Orleans, but written documentation is lacking.

The song probably is African-American in origin, perhaps from a spiritual, but this has not been verified. From its nature, gospel camp meeting origin seems likely.
Its first publication as a spiritual was in 1930, by Hall Johnson. It was used in the show, "Green Pastures."

If anyone has found an earlier publication, please post the information.

Fuld compares the tune to that of "When the Roll Is Called up Yonder," also by J. M. Black, and there are similarities, but this seems coincidental.
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With regard to the post by PoppaGator, one of the musicians at Preservation Hall told me, "If anyone comes in here whistling that, he has to make a donation or he gets tossed out."