Because We’re All on the Same Train (Music for Mondays)

Posted by Webster 
I had the honor of serving at my second funeral this morning. As I learned in the theater, the second “performance” is always harder than opening night. The first time, you’re working on adrenaline and the Holy Spirit. The second time, it’s all on the Holy Spirit, and doesn’t he like to humble you? So there were a few minor goofs, noticed only by Father Barnes, I’m sure, and he’s too polite to say anything.

After my posts yesterday on the Second Coming, this one and this one, Father Barnes was back circling the subject in his homily, citing a Negro Spiritual called “Same Train.” The train that took our ancestors, our grandparents, our parents—that train is coming at us too.

The communion hymn, “In the Bleak Midwinter,” sung at the funeral by a wonderful soprano (name unknown) to the accompaniment of organmaster Fred MacArthur, is another beautiful tune, from an entirely different tradition. Recently, someone posted or sent me this clip.  It’s still pretty bleak around here (big snow in Boston over the weekend), but we can take hope from this message.

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  • EPG

    "In the Bleak Midwinter" is one of my favorite carols, and the video from Gloucester Cathedral (which I have seen before)is just beautiful. I love to sing the bass line (can somebody tell me why Catholic hymnals only provide melody?). A fantastic piece to have at a funeral.

  • Webster Bull

    EPG, When you become a Catholic (…) you may have to sing in the choir, as I do. One of my great pleasures as a young Episcopalian was singing that bass line. It seems Catholics are afraid to sing even the melodies, for the most part. Definitely a minor drawback, I would say. But singing in our choir makes up for it.

  • Maria

    I am glad you enjoyed In the Bleak Midwinter. I sent it to so many people over Christmas. But, Same Train, is the best theology I have seen in quite some time. What a beauty. Thank you and Happy New Year to you and your readers.

  • Warren Jewell

    I confess that I am glad we don't have many Gospel-music hymns – not my cup of the Precious Blood, if you get my drift.Then again, of all-too-rare singing Catholics, my favorite pat on their back is to tell them that "You sing like a Protestant." 🙂

  • Maria

    You have to be a Catholic from the South to appreciate Same Train and its ilk.

  • Webster Bull

    Yeah, Warren, you're from the wrong part of the country. Chicago? Is there any good music in Chicago?!But it seems we can all agree on In the Bleak Midwinter. And what a version, the look on that baby's face when Mom kisses him!

  • Maria

    Chicago, of course. Where do you think all that marvelous blues came from? The South.

  • Webster, I was reading your blog instead of working on the icon I am embroidering for one of our priests, when I looked at the St Francis BSSM clip. Ok, I have to get up and get to work, but watched Same Train and In the Bleak Midwinter first and was moved to tears. Out of gratitude for what God has given us and me and His Provision for us, in hope for my parents and others that they were on that Same Train, and overwhelmed with the kindnesses shown to me by my friends and acquaintances and sorrow for my own failures. Thank you for stimulating my prayer life today, AnneG in NC

  • Webster Bull

    Dear Anne, I am very happy that this blog has brought you something today. It brings me something every day too, opening my eyes to all the answers to "Why Am I Catholic?" Now, get back to work on that embroidery!! 🙂