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When the saints go marching in (Bruce Springsteen)

The Boss's version of this religious classic, live on TV. A traditional religious hymn from the en of the 19th century. It became so popular that today it is more known from jazz recitals than from church praise. In church, it is often sung in a slow style in funeral ceremonies wishing the sould of the deceased is marching into heaven, but it can also be sang in a much happier style to express joy (see it here)

 

We are all travelling in the footsteps
Of those that've gone before
And we'll all be reunited
On a new and sunlit shore

Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

And when the sun refuses to shine
When the sun refuses to shine
Lord, how I want to be in that number
Oh, when the saints they go marching in

Oh, when the saints they go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
Oh, when the saints go marching in

When the trumpet sounds its call
When the trumpet sounds its call
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the trumpet sounds its call

Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Now, some say
Some say this world of trouble
Is the only world we'll ever see
But I'm waiting, I'm waiting for that morning
When the New World is revealed

Oh, when the New World is revealed
When the New World is revealed
Lord, how I want to be there on that morning
When the New World is revealed

Oh, when the saints go marching in
Oh, when the saints go marching in
Lord, how 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
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in
Lord, how I want to be in that number
When the saints go marching in

Thank you so much!

FOOTSTEPS= The marks left by the feet on the ground when walking. To "travel in the footsteps of somebody" means to follow their example or their teachings, to have them as a model.

REUNITED= If you are reunited with somebody, you get back together after a time of separation.

SUNLIT= Illuminated by the sun.

SHORE= Coast, beach.
The shore here represents the end of the journey (our life on earth), a journey across the sea of life to reach the coast of heaven.

THE SAINTS= The good and faithful people (dead or alive) who will be saved in heaven. In English we can use THE + ADJective to refer to a group of people with that quality (e.g. the poor = people who are poor).

MARCHING= To march is to walk together with other people at the same pace, as one army. To "march in" is to enter a place marching.

LORD= God.

HOW I WANT TO BE...!= I really really want to be...

TO BE IN THAT NUMBER= To be one of them, to be part of that group of people.

REFUSES= If you refuse to do something, you don't do it because you don't want to do it.

SHINE= Give out light.

TRUMPET= The beginning of the destruction of the old world (today's world) will be, according to tradition, announced with a trumpet sounded by the archangel Gabriel. So "when the trumpet sounds its call", the destruction will begin (but the saints will be safe because they'll be marching into heaven).

TROUBLE= /trʌbəl/ Problems.

THE NEW WORLD= The Book of Revelation says that after the destruction of this world there will be "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1). That New World, also called "The New Jerusalem" will be a new society where people will live in peace and joy (some say in this life, some say in the afterlife).

REVEALED= Shown. If something is revealed, it is made public or it is shown to everyone.

The song is apocalyptic, taking much of its imagery from the Book of Revelation (last book of the Bible). On Doom's Day (or Judgement Day), the old world will be destroyed. There are signs announcing that destruction, some of them are in this song: the sun sill stop shining (a solar eclipse?) and a trumpet will sound across the skies: it's the Trumpet of Judgment, the trumpet of the Archangel Gabriel, who will announce the end of this evil world. But the saints, the people who were good and faithful, will be spare all this destruction and be safe in heaven. That moment, when the saints go marching in heaven, is the moment the song is talking about, so it doesn't refer to the saints that are dead, but the faithful people who will be alive at the moment of the destruction.

When the saints are safe in heaven and the old evil world destroyed, a new world will arrive, "a new heaven and a new earth", as the Book of Revelation says, and then we will have the New Jerusalem, a world of peace and joy for everyone (see a song about this New Jerusalem here)

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