Okay, the O’Jay’s “Love Train” isn’t a true gospel song, BUT, it’s been covered by plenty of gospel groups including James Cleveland and The Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir. Additionally it was covered by The Boston Community Choir the year I sang with them at First Night. It was our last song and we kept singing as we processed out of the Tremont Temple…with the crowd going wild, singing and clapping and dancing. It was great fun!
So, here’s a tribute to a great song, LOVE TRAIN. For FREE I am throwing in a slower R&B version by a guy named Bunny Sigler, an R&B singer/producer from the ’70s. Enjoy.
Love TrainRev. James Cleveland and The GMWA Mass Choir4:41
What the heck, let’s keep this “Home” theme going a bit; there is certainly no lack of songs about “making it home” in the realm of gospel music. In fact, it is one of the principle themes of gospel music…well, in religious music as a whole.
I was just reminded of the lyrics of a song by Myrna Summer titled “An Uncloudy Day“, that I thought would be a great example of a wonderful old black gospel song about “Home”. Unfortunately that song was written in 1886 by Rev Josiah Kelly “J.K.” Alwood, a white minister who served as presiding elder of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ Church in Ohio for 23 years. Nonetheless, the lyrics are still relevant here.
Oh, they tell me of a home far beyond the skies,
Oh, they tell me of a home far away;
Oh, they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise,
Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day.
Another song from the Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir recorded in Salt Lake City in 1992.
All Is WellGospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) Mass Choir5:56
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The song was written by Elder Roger Hairston, pastor of the Temple of Faith C.L.G. (Church of the Loving God) in Columbus OH. He also directed the choir on this recording. Elder Hairston is one of many, many, Hairstons who have been pastors and/or involved with gospel music. One of the better know Hairstons was Jester Hairston, an American composer, songwriter, arranger, choral conductor, and actor. He was regarded as a leading expert on Negro spirituals and choral music. (He arranged a version of “Elijah Rock” that Joyful Voices perfromed. The “other” version of “Elijah Rock” was arranged by Mose Hogan). His notable compositions include “Amen,” a gospel-tinged theme from the film “Lilies of the Field” and a 1963 hit for The Impressions, and the Christmas song “Mary’s Boy Child”. He also made many appearances on radio (Amos and Andy) and television (Amen, Family Matters, etc.)
The story of the Hairston dynasty is remarkable and is documented in the book “The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White”.