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Lyr Req: Child of the Railroad Engineer

DigiTrad:
THE CHILD OF THE RAILROAD ENGINEER


Related thread:
(origins) Origins: railroad song (9)


GUEST,Fletch 20 Mar 00 - 09:34 PM
Dale Rose 20 Mar 00 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Gene 20 Mar 00 - 10:25 PM
Dale Rose 20 Mar 00 - 11:44 PM
Joe Offer 12 Nov 02 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,Richie 12 Nov 02 - 09:58 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 14 Nov 02 - 01:46 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 14 Nov 02 - 01:50 PM
Jim Dixon 28 Dec 06 - 12:28 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 29 Dec 06 - 12:06 AM
Joe Offer 28 Aug 14 - 06:08 PM
Joe Offer 28 Aug 14 - 06:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Aug 14 - 06:52 PM
Jim Dixon 30 Aug 14 - 08:09 PM
GUEST,hagarwood 26 Feb 15 - 12:43 AM
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Subject: Engineer's prayer
From: GUEST,Fletch
Date: 20 Mar 00 - 09:34 PM

The only part of the song I can remember is this -

"If my darling's dead then show me the red If she's better then show me the green"

"Just one short look was the only chance And the signal light was seen In the midnight air There rose a prayer Thank the Lord the light was green"

Also, I'm not sure of the correct name of the song


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Engineer's prayer
From: Dale Rose
Date: 20 Mar 00 - 09:59 PM

This song goes by several names, mostly The Engineer's Child and The Red And Green Signal Lights, I think. It's proper name, though is Just Set A Light, words by Henry V. Neal, music by Gussie L. Davis, copyright 1896. This link should take you to the sheet music to JUST SET A LIGHT at The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music. When you get there, you will find a link to the next page at the bottom of the page.

I thought we had a discussion of this song earlier, but I could not find it without our Super Search. I KNOW we have talked about Gussie L. Davis, though, one of the foremost black composers of the period.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Engineer's prayer
From: GUEST,Gene
Date: 20 Mar 00 - 10:25 PM

The Child Of The Railroad Engineer

* CLICK HERE - LYRICS ARE IN DT DATA BASE *


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Engineer's prayer
From: Dale Rose
Date: 20 Mar 00 - 11:44 PM

There ya go, another title. That's why I didn't find it there when I looked.


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Subject: Lyr Add: SIGNAL LIGHT
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 08:08 PM

I found a slightly different version here (click), and I think it's worth posting.
-Joe Offer-

Signal Light

A little girl on a sickbed lay
And death seemed very near
Her parent's pride and the only child
Of a railroad engineer

As his duty called him from those he loved
His heart was filled with fear
And as his tears he shed to his wife he said:
"I'll leave two lanterns dear".

"You may place a light from the window tonight
From there it can be seen
If our darling's dead you can show the red
If she's better then show the green."

On his bended knees by his little girl's bed
He prayed to God above,
"Oh Lord, we need our little girl so,
Won't you please spare the one we love?"

In the cottage small by the railroad side
From the mother's watchful eye
Shown a gleam of hope through her gentle smile
As the train went rolling by.

Just one short glance was his only chance,
But the signal light was seen
There arose a prayer amid the midnight air
Thanking God that the light was green.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CHILD OF THE RAILROAD ENGINEER
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 12 Nov 02 - 09:58 PM

Jean, this is in the DT- Is your version different? If so, I'd like to see it.

CHILD OF THE RAILROAD ENGINEER
from Ethel Park Richardson's book American Mountain Songs

A little child on a sickbed lay,
And death was very near,
The parents' pride and the only child
Of a railroad engineer.

    His duty called him from those he loved,
    And the house whose light was dimmed,
    Ah, the tears he shed as "Wife" he said,
    "I will have two lanterns trimmed."

cho: "Just hang a light by my bed tonight,
    And hang it where it can be seen!
    If our baby's dead, just hang the red;
    If she's better, then hang the green!"

In a little house by the railroad side,
A mother with watchful eye
Saw a gleam of hope and a feeble smile
As the train went rushing by;

    Just one short look was his only chance
    To see the light agleam;
    In the midnight air there arose a pray'r
    Thank God! The light was green!

Thanks,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Orphan's Lament'
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 01:46 PM

Richie, the one we knew was the same- with those little changes folks make when they disremember the words as they're singing, and fill in with workable ones. Don't know if your vsn is older or younger than ours- I would think ours would be nearer the original, but that can be checked. I do think that the line, "Just hang a light when I pass tonight, hang it where it can be seen," makes more sense than, Hang a light by my bed tonight," since he was not in bed but out in his passing train. Etc. Our second verse again is almost the same:


In a cottage by the railroad side

Sat a mother with watchful eye;

Saw a ray of hope and a feeble smile

As the train went rushing by. One short look was his only chance

To see that pale light a-gleam.

In the midnight air there arose a prayer-

Thank God the light was green!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Orphan's Lament'
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 01:50 PM

What's going on, Threadmasters? Does <BR> no longer work? Please do fix it? I guess there's some new instructions somewhere I need to read. Sorry.
Hi, Jean - I moved Richie and you from the "Orphan's Lament" thread to the thread on "Child of the Railroad Engineer" so we could keep all the information on that song together.
Hope you don't mind.
Note that in the "New Mudcat," <br> line breaks are automatic. If the text you have already has linebreaks, uncheck the "automatic linebreaks" box at the bottom of the box where you enter your "reply to thread."
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: JUST SET A LIGHT (H V Neal, G L Davis)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Dec 06 - 12:28 AM

From the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music (see link above):
(I have underlined the differences between these lyrics and the ones in the DT.)

JUST SET A LIGHT
Words, Henry V. Neal. Music, Gussie L. Davis. 1896

1. A little child on a sickbed lay, and to death seemed very near,
Her parents' pride and only child of a railroad engineer.
His duty calls him from the one he loved, from this home whose lights were dimmed.
While tears he shed, to his wife he said, "I will leave two lanterns trimmed.

CHORUS: "Just set a light when I pass tonight. Set it where it can be seen.
If our darling's dead, then show the red; if she's better, show the green."

2. In that small house by the railroad side, 'twas the mother's watchful eye
Saw gleam of hope in the feeble smile as the train went rushing by;
Just one short look 'twas his only chance but the signal light was seen;
On the midnight air there arose a pray'r: "Thank the Lord, the light is green."


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Subject: RE: Req: Engineer's prayer/Child of the RR Engineer
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 29 Dec 06 - 12:06 AM

I do believe that Rose The Record Lady had a fine version of this song up on her great website---done by Hank Snow.

It's sad she had to close up.

Art
Oh, and Anne Hills recorded it too.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Child of the Railroad Engineer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Aug 14 - 06:08 PM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Child of the Railroad Engineer, The (The Two Lanterns)

    DESCRIPTION: "A little child on a sick-bed lay, And to death seemed very near." The child's father is a railroad engineer, and must go to work. He bids the mother show a red light if the child dies and a green if the news was good. As he drives by, she shows the green
    AUTHOR: Words: Harry V. Neal / Music: Gussie L. Davis
    EARLIEST DATE: 1898 (sheet music)
    KEYWORDS: family children disease railroading
    FOUND IN: US(So)
    REFERENCES (4 citations):
    Cohen-LSRail, pp. , "The Red and Green Signal Light/The Engineer's Child" (2 texts plus a copy of the sheet music cover, 1 tune)
    Randolph 685, "The Two Lanterns" (1 text)
    Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 140-141, "The Child of the Railroad Engineer" (1 text, 1 tune)
    DT, CHILDENG*

    Roud #5066
    RECORDINGS:
    Chuck Wagon Gang, "The Engineer's Child" (Vocalion 04105, 1938)
    [G. B.] Grayson & [Henry] Whitter, "The Red and Green Signal Lights" (Victor V-40063, 1929); "Red or Green" (Gennett 6418/Champion 15465/Challenge 397 [as by David Foley], 1928)

    ALTERNATE TITLES:
    Just Set a Light
    NOTES: It's hard to believe that every version I've seen of this song has a happy ending; it sounds like a nineteenth century tearjerker. But I can't find evidence to prove it.
    I once heard Bob Bovee and Gail Heil joke that they had two versions of this, with happy and sad endings. But they sang the happy ending.
    Norm Cohen raises an interesting possibility in this regard: When the song was written, in 1896, a red light meant danger -- but green meant caution. Not until 1898 was the green-for-good standard first adopted. So the song suddenly became more optimistic two years after its composition. Could this explain the complex endings?
    The idea is of course much older, going back at least to versions of the story of Tristan. As he lay dying, he awaited the ship that was to fetch Isuelt to his side. If she was on the ship, it was to show white sails; if she had not come, it was to show black. In the Marie de France version, she comes, but Tristan is falsely told that the ship carries black sails, and dies. - RBW
    Last updated in version 2.5
    File: R685

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Song List

    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Child of the Railroad Engineer
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Aug 14 - 06:20 PM

I found a number of recordings of this on Spotify:
  • The Engineer's Child - Hank Snow
  • The Engineer's Dying Child - Johnny Cash
  • Child of the Engineer - Brook Benton, with strings, and chimes, and everything!
  • The Red and Green Signal Lights - Grayson & Whitter
  • Red and Green Signal - The Virginia Mountain Boys


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Child of the Railroad Engineer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Aug 14 - 06:52 PM

The Randolph "Two Lanterns" is the Neal-Davis text.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE ENGINEER'S CHILD (from Hank Snow)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 30 Aug 14 - 08:09 PM

THE ENGINEER'S CHILD
As recorded by Hank Snow on RCA Victor 20-4096, 1951.

1. A little child on a sickbed lay, and death was very near.
She was the pride and only child of a railroad engineer.
His duty had called him from those he loved, and seeing that hope was dim,
While a tear he shed, to his wife he said: "Just have two lanterns trim.

CHORUS: "Just hang a light as I pass tonight; hang it where it can be seen.
If our baby's dead, just show the red; if she's better, then show the green."

2. In a little house by the railroad track, a mother with watchful eye
Saw a gleam of hope and a feeble smile as the train went rushing by.
Just one short look was his only chance to see the light agleam.
In the midnight air there arose a pray'r: "Thank God, the light was green." CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Child of the Railroad Engineer
From: GUEST,hagarwood
Date: 26 Feb 15 - 12:43 AM

Excellent version by Anne Hills and CindyMangsen on Never Grow Old CD called Light Of Red and Green.


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