Scripture Verse

Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Revelation 2:10

Introduction

portrait
James M. Black
1856–1938

Words: Kath­ar­ine E. Pur­vis, in Songs of the Soul No. 2, by James M. Black (Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio: Cur­tis & Jenn­ings, 1896).

Music: James M. Black (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Purv­is (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), or a bet­ter one of Black,

The song When the Saints Are March­ing In…is NOT the tra­di­tion­al When the Saints Go March­ing In. Ev­en though the ti­tles dif­fer by a word, sev­er­al au­tho­ri­tat­ive mu­sic ref­er­ence books list Pur­vis and Black as the 1896 au­thors of When the Saints Go March­ing In.

As a con­se­quence, ma­ny song col­lect­ions in a va­ri­ety of for­mats—book, re­cord, tape and CD—wrong­ly as­sign Kath­ar­ine E. Pur­vis and James M. Black the cre­dit for this Am­er­ican folk fa­vor­ite.

In truth, the pre­cise ori­gins of When the Saints Go March­ing In is not known. At this point it is prob­ab­ly not pos­si­ble to trace the orig­in­al source of this er­ror, or to cor­rect it from spread­ing.

Longtime mu­sic pro­fess­or at Ly­coming Col­lege, Ma­ry Lan­don Rus­sell con­fus­es the two songs in her 1957 mas­ters the­sis at Penn State Uni­ver­si­ty.

The ear­li­est au­tho­ri­ta­tive ref­er­ence book with the er­ror ap­pears to be The Great Song The­saur­us by Ro­ger Lax and Fred­er­ick Smith, pub­lished by Ox­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press. On page 380 of the 1984 first edi­tion, the au­thors wrong­ly at­trib­ute When the Saints Go March­ing In to Kath­ar­ine E. Pur­vis and James M. Black in 1896.

Loyer, p. 14

Lyrics

Thro’ the shin­ing gate,
Where the an­gels wait,
When the saints are march­ing in,
The re­deemed shall come,
And be crowned at home,
When the saints are march­ing in.

Refrain

When the saints are march­ing in,
When the saints are march­ing in,
Joyful songs of sal­va­tion thro’ the sky shall ring,
When the saints are march­ing in.

Parted friends shall meet,
On the gold­en street,
When the saints are march­ing in,
Spotless robes shall wear,
Victor’s palms shall bear,
When the saints are march­ing in.

Refrain

Ev’ry tongue and race
Shall ex­tol God’s grace,
When the saints are march­ing in,
And the blood-washed throng
Shall re­peat the song,
When the saints are march­ing in.

Refrain

To the Lamb once slain,
But who lives again,

When the saints are march­ing in,
We shall of­fer praise
Thro’ eter­nal days,
When the saints are march­ing in.

Refrain