When the Saints Go Marching in (chords, melody with tabs and arrangement)

Last updated on February 8th, 2024


When the Saints Go Marching in is a gospel/spiritual hymn which was most notably recorded by Louis Armstrong. This post covers the chords, sheet music for the melody including tabs, and a finger-style guitar arrangement.

Grab your guitar and let’s get started!

How to read the guitar chord charts

To clarify how to read the chord charts ahead, the top horizontal line represents the high E string and the bottom horizontal line represents the low E string. The vertical lines separate each fret. The numbers in the blue dots tell you which fingers to use on the fretting hand. 

For example, on the G Major chord, you use the:

  • 2nd finger on the 6th string, 3rd fret
  • 1st finger on the 5th string, 2nd fret
  • 3rd finger on the 2nd string, 3rd fret
  • 4th finger on the 1st string, 3rd fret
  • Circles represent open strings
  • On some other chords, X means to avoid the string

If needed, check out this post for more on how to read guitar notation symbols.

When the Saints Go Marching In – guitar chords

The basic chords you for When the Saints Go Marching in are G Major, D Major, and C Major. You can click on chords with links to learn different ways of playing that chord.

Try the following chords one at a time until you feel comfortable switching between them. These chords will be written above the melody in the next section.

When the Saints Go Marching in guitar chords

Here are some other resources on chords:

When the Saints Go Marching In – Melody with tabs and chords

For the sheet music below, keep in mind that the chords and melody are meant to be played as separate parts. We’ll look at how to connect these parts later in the arrangement section of this post.

You can refer to this simple guide to understanding music symbols if needed.

Note that when playing the chords part, continue playing the same chord when switching to a measure that doesn’t show one. For example, you would play G Major for the first 8 measures (excluding the pickup measure in the beginning).

By the way, you can get all the PDFs of this post below.


When the Saints Go Marching in tabs and chords

When the Saints Go Marching In lyrics

Verse 1:
O when the saints go marching in,
O when the saints go marching in,
O Lord, I want to be in that number
when the saints go marching in.

Verse 2:
O when the sun refused to shine,
O when the sun refused to shine,
O Lord, I want to be in that number
when the sun refused to shine.

Verse 3:
O when they crown him Lord of all,
O when they crown him Lord of all,
O Lord, I want to be in that number
when they crown him Lord of all.

Reference: When The Saints go Marching In. hymnary.org

When the Saints Go Marching in – guitar arrangement

In this section, we essentially put different parts together using a finger picking style method of playing. 

The numbers next to some notes on the top staff indicate which fingers to use on the fretting hand.

To learn more, check out this post on how to finger pick on guitar.


When the Saints Go Marching in fingerstyle guitar arrangement

If you like this style of playing, you can learn how to connect a melody and chords on guitar.

Get the free guitar practice guide here!

Want to learn more songs? Check out the sheet music with guitar tabs resource on this site.

All the best,
JG Music Lessons

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