Complexity Level: super simple
Parts: SSAA (the bottom line could also be sung by beardy singers, at pitch or down the octave)
Genre: Christmas spiritual - strophic
Deets: F Major 4/4
Three announcements before we start. Firstly - my apologies for not publishing a song last week. I was poorly and instead of blogging I sooked and moaned on the couch. Secondly, the other night I roped my singing buddies Fergus and Alison into recording the quick n easy version of Michael Row so I've added that to the bottom of that post. Thirdly I'd like to give a shout out to Paula, a fellow alto and supporter of this blog. who is recovering from surgery after a vicious dog attack. Paula - I hope you heal swiftly inside and out.
My choir is well into carol rehearsal season. When does your choir start? I suspect those folks who complain about how early supermarkets pedal their Christmas wares are probably not choristers. Choir Christmas preparation start months before supermarkets bring out their tinsel! So you've probably got your performing repertoire sorted. I've included this song because it's so catchy and simple you could throw it together for a warm up.
There are a lot of verses. Each chorister could lead a verse. (The tune is largely in the second part and the choir could respond during the "o Lord"s.
I recently went to a concert of several women's acappella choirs. They both sang some contemporary songs with contemporary arrangements. Some of these songs featured an independent bass line, with its own feel and movement. I liked that and tried it here.
The words are interesting. The repeated last line of each verse people keep a comin, an the train done gone doesn't seem to relate to Christmas. There's an interesting discussion about these words on mudcat. They may refer to the glory train or the first great migration where between 1910 and 1930 over 1 million African-Americans left the south in search of better conditions and employment. There was a suggestion that Mary and Joseph had to walk to Bethlehem, and that the nativity story is one of many people moving by foot.
For ease of reading I've written the quavers straight - but as soon as you start singing this song you'll feel how much they want to swing, and how the heartbeat of the song is of course on 2 and 4.
I hope your choir has fun with this one!