Railways / Railroads and Trains as metaphors – Part 3

Teaching the congregation an unaccompanied round

Here is a song we taught the congregation during a service in the New Hall at our church on 17 January 2021, which we were using for services while our historic church building was being earthquake strengthened. 

We explored 1 Samuel 3:1-21 [Samuel’s Calling] and my theme was God’s calling – Let’s climb on board!

The song talks about slaves in the southern United States in the 1800s making secret (Underground Railroad) journeys to the northern United States and Canada where they would be free.

Click the link to download an mp3 sound file of us singing. (The hall has a lively acoustic so the sound quality is not great - but you will get the idea of the song.)

This Ol' Freedom Train – Audio recording
(Congregation sings led by Heather and Philip)

This Ol' Freedom Train
This ol' Freedom Train
is such a long time in a'comin'
There ain't no one can't afford it,
So you'd better climb on board it.
Gimme that [clap] Free-ee-dom,
Gimme that [clap] Free-ee-dom,
Gimme that Freedom, Freedom, Freedom
Ch t ch, Ch t ch, Ch t ch, Ch


Congregations can sing unaccompanied if they are led by confident singers. 

For a round like this, the technique we use is to have everyone sing right through the song 2 or 3 times. Then we split the congregation into two groups (left and right) with one leader starting leading one group and the other leader starting a bar or two later leading the second group.

Notice how the round is a bit ragged at first, but as the congregation relax into the song and start to enjoy it, the sound improves.

I first learnt the song as a warmup exercise for our Festival Singers choir rehearsals, and added it to my worship kete.

31 January 2023

p.s. I displayed and talked about my model railway shunting layout before we sang the song. Come back for part 4 of this series next Tuesday to see more.

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