Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mary Had a Baby, O My Lord!

Two different--and inspired--versions of the old spiritual: "Mary Had a Baby."  The first is from Oman, the Muscat Christian Harmony and Muscat Men's Chorus in Muscat, Oman.  The second is from The Nathaniel Dett Chorale in Canada.

The words have sometimes puzzled folks.  I've stumbled across this reflection on the "Global Christian Worship" site:

The last line of each verse may seem out of place with the rest of the song: “The people keep a’comin’ and the train done gone.” Trains were a new reality in the emerging industrial age of the early 1800s. This new mode of transportation connected places that had previously been isolated. In other words, trains represented a way out. For that reason, train imagery figures prominently in the history of the African-American people. There’s the Underground Railroad, which took passengers from station to station on their way to freedom. There were the real trains that ran through tunnels built by legendary heroes like John Henry. Even in the midst of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the Impressions were singing, “People get ready, there’s a train a-comin’. Don’t need no ticket, just thank the Lord!”