Your answers: I would be delighted if anyone could suggest hymns suitable for a service to do with the railways and steam engines. [Answers, 27 April]
The spiritual “She’ll be comin’ round the mountain” was accommodated to the coming of steam engines. It is described in Carl Sandburg’s 1927 book The American Songbag (often reprinted) as “An old-time negro spiritual When the Chariot Comes was made by mountaineers into She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, and the song spread to railroad work gangs in the Midwest in the 1890’s.”
One could borrow from the original version verse 1: “O, who will drive the chariot [engine] when she comes?”; verse 2: “King Jesus, he’ll be driver when she comes”; and verse 3: “She’ll be loaded with bright angels when she comes.”
Alan Bartley, Greenford, Middlesex
A “must” is Elizabeth Clephane’s “There were ninety-and-nine that safely lay” (43 in Sacred Songs and Solos). Ira D. Sankey had come across the words while travelling on a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh in 1874. The tune that he composed clearly suggests the rhythm of the rail coach.
Burton upon Trent
J. M. Neale would have been delighted at the detection of a railway-signal interpretation of a phrase in “O happy band of pilgrims”; for he contrived a theological analogy between the signal’s horizontal arm and the outstretched arms on the Cross. As an enthusiast, he dropped everything to take up at once an offer of a footplate ride on a test run of the soon-to-open first railway to East Grinstead.
There are many other indications of his interest in railways, both technical and in the use he made of them at home and on the Continent.
M. J. Leppard
Are collects and post-communions the only prayers without an “Amen” at the end? Why is this? I. S.-T.
Our Vicar says it costs £18 per person per week to keep our church open. On meeting a C of E barrister at a service elsewhere, I put this to him, and he said the Vicar was wrong, because all collections from all C of E churches, rich or poor, are sent into the Church Commissioners, who then “allocate funds as needed”. Who is right? H. P.
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