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Lyr Add: Gospel Train (sung by Ella Madison)

Related threads:
Origins: The Gospel Train (Get on Board) (17)
Lyr Req: Hear that train a-comin' (10)
Lyr Req: Golden Gate Gospel Train (5)
ADD: De Gospel Train (not Git on Board) (5)

Charley Noble 23 Aug 03 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Q 23 Aug 03 - 04:49 PM
Charley Noble 24 Aug 03 - 08:51 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Gospel Train (Ella Madison)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Aug 03 - 03:17 PM

Here's another gospel song from the singing of Ella Robinson Madison back in the 1920's. There's more background information on Ella in the thread entitled "Fight Wid Ole Satan":


(From singing of Ella Robinson Madison in early 1920's as collected by Winifred (Wendy) Holt)

De Gospel train's a-comin',
I see it turn de curve,
Strainin' all it's steamin' power,
Strainin' every nerve.


Git on board, O git on board,
Git on board, little children,
There's room for many more.

De Gospel train's a-comin',
I see it right at han',
Strainin' all its streamin' power,
An' a-rumblin'tru de lan'. (CHO)

Some folks go to church, fo' to laugh and shout,
Befo' six months dey all turned out. (CHO)

Some folks go to church to see de dresses so fine,
Widout a bit o' God-a-mighty on dere min'. (CHO)

Some folks go to church widout recollection,
Just to put in a few pennies to help out de collection. (CHO)

Note: It's not that unusual for a gospel song to change its verse structure as this one does above; it may be a combination of two such songs.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Gospel Train (Ella Madison)
Date: 23 Aug 03 - 04:49 PM

Two songs here, but not unusual. The "get on board" Gospel Train is a common spiritual, perhaps the best known version is the one sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. There is another "Gospel Train," see thread 41409. Neither is well-represented in the DT.
Other transport was used- see "Gospel Boat" in the DT. The oldest seems to be the Ship of Zion, but the "Git on Board" versions developed with the railroads.

The second song share verses from several others on the same theme, this one also sharing, with Dry Bones:

Some go ter meetin' to sing an' shout,
Dry bones goin' ter rise ergin;
'Fore six months dey's all turned out,
Dry bones goin' ter rise ergin.

Talk erbout me but 'taint my fault,
But me an' God-er-mighty goin' walk an' talk,
Dry ...

Ef you want to go to heaven when you die
Dry ...
Jes' stop yo' tongue from tellin' lies,
From Odum and Johnson, The Negro and His Songs.

Also in one about Noah:

Some go to meetin' to put on pretense,
Fohty days and fohty nights;
Until de day ob grace is spent,
Fohty days and fohty nighs;

Some go to meetin' to sing and shout,
Fo' six months dey'll be turned out,
Also from Odum and Johnson.

These complain about insincere church members, here is one of my favorites, complaining about the preacher:

Preachers in their sermons stand up and tell the truth,
They'll go about and murmur with slander and abuse;
They want the whole arrangement to suit their selfish style,
God's goin' rain down fire after 'while.
After 'while, after 'while,
God's goin' to change our station, after 'while.
Also from Odum and Johnson, last verse of After 'While.

The verse abour recollection and collection I haven't seen before.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Gospel Train (Ella Madison)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Aug 03 - 08:51 AM

Ella also sang a version of "Dry Bones" to my mother. I think you've nailed where the last three verses of "Gospel Train" came from. When our family friend Wendy was transcribing Ella's songs, she was doing so in the early 1940's as remembered by the Zorach family. So, some folk processing may have taken place in the renditions recorded. Ella died in the mid 1930's.

Charley Noble

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