Search

HYMN for ALL SAINTS SUNDAY When the Saints Go Marching In


All Saints and All Souls with the Ascended Christ. Fra Angelio

Text and Tune: African American spiritual/Anonymous


Oh, when the saints go marching in Oh, when the saints go marching in Oh Lord 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 Oh Lord 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 Oh Lord 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 Oh Lord 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 Oh Lord 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 Oh Lord I want to be in that number When the saints go marching in. Oh, brother Charles you are my friend Oh, brother Charles you are my friend Yea, you gonna be in that number When the saints go marching in. Oh, when the saints go marching in Oh, when the saints go marching in Oh Lord I want to be in that number When the saints go marching in.


REFLECTION

All Saints’ Day has, over my lifetime, become more celebrated than I remember from my childhood. It was always in the calendar and the hymns for the day were “Behold a Host” and “For all the Saints.” The tunes and texts are glorious in their rich sounds and poetic imagery from the Book of Revelation.


This hymn, however, is a rollicking good spiritual that also uses imagery from Revelation, and, like the others, revels in the joy of the saints as they enter heaven. The delight in the sight of the saints and their marching into heaven fills us with joy.


The sight of the saints also causes the singer to pray that he or she will be “in that number.” This is a note of judgment or at least a warning that one has to do something to be among the saints. The moon turns red, the horsemen come and even an invitation to brother Charles to get ready.



My father preaching 1952

That, I think, is the mark of good preaching: making the pictures of salvation so desirable and beautiful that all those listening want to go there and maybe even are asking how to get there. That is the calling of the preacher or witness to make clear. I remember watching for my father as he approached the end of the sermon, waiting for him to “put it into high” and listen for his rhetoric to rise to the occasion with thrilling pictures of what could be when we were in Christ Jesus. James A. Forbes, at the time, homiletics professor at Union Seminary, described the work of the preacher—he was particularly describing the African -American preacher—was to start quietly and then “sit down in a storm.” And that is what he did in every lecture and every sermon I ever heard him do.


People come to hear that kind of preaching. They want to be moved and fed. Too often, the preacher seems to be thinking I am all right, and I have come to church so I can be told what to do the next week—to feed others. But I can’t do that until I have been fed. People come to church out of need. I remember the Sunday after 9/11, people filled the churches out of need. Unfortunately, most of them heard their preachers telling them whose fault it was and received little of the comfort and salvation they needed to hear. Obviously, not many of those came back.


Last Sunday I heard a sermon on John 21:15-19, where Jesus tells Peter, feed my sheep. It fed me. As I talked with the preacher afterwards, he remarked that we needed a new reformation that understood how we have gone back to pre-Luther times and are once again preaching the Law, burdening them with a list of tasks they must do to find salvation, and not feeding our people the food that nourishes and saves.


People come to church for many reasons. Most of all they want to be challenged and fed the Gospel. What Christians believe and what we must preach is that the end of the Christian life is joy and salvation. Or in the words of another spiritual, Give me Jesus, who is life eternal. When he is preached so that we can feed on him and receive nourishment, we can then serve our neighbor with grateful hearts.


HYMN INFO

Once again as with most spirituals, the author and composer here are unknown. We can however point to the many classic recordings of it going back to almost the beginning of recording history.


LINKS

Louis Armstrong

https://youtu.be/2ZWZf0EF4RE


Fats Domino

https://youtu.be/HWEjn_o_C74


Fisk Jubilee Singers

https://youtu.be/LSqO5iO5MRw

The Gaithers

https://youtu.be/kG6ZVNzqQ8M


New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band

https://youtu.be/LOluh_1_rlw


New Orleans Funeral Procession

https://youtu.be/WCM91i0Zlic


Choir/Band

https://youtu.be/kACdu0CDdeY







70 views1 comment