“Little Black Train Is A-Comin'”


Chorus: "Little black train is a-comin', Get all your business right... For the train may be here tonight." King Hezekiah is offered as an example. A young man lives a sinful life; when death comes, he is surprised and vainly begs for mercy

Supplemental text

Little Black Train Is A-Comin'
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

The Little Black Train

From Dorothy Scarborough, On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs,
pp. 2460-261. Source not indicated save that it is said to
be a Holy Roller song.

God said to Hezekiah
  In a message from on high,
Go set thy house in order
  For thou shalt surely die.

The little black train is coming,
  Get all your business right;
Better set your house in order,
  For the train may be here tonight.

(10 additional stanzas)


The story of Hezekiah's bout with sickness, God's threat, Hezekiah's repentance, and Isaiah's promise of fifteen additional years of life is told in 2 Kings 20:1-11 (repeated almost verbatim inIsaiah 38) and briefly summarized in 2 Chronicles 32:24-26.

The version in Brown accidentally replaces "Hezekiah" with "Ezekiel," but the former name is clearly correct. It tacks on the story of the Wise Fool, Luke 12:16-20. - RBW

Cross references


  • Emry Arthur, "The Little Black Train Is Coming" (Vocalion 5229, c. 1928)
  • Dock Boggs, "Little Black Train" (on Boggs2, BoggsCD1)
  • Carter Family, "The Little Black Train" (OKeh 03112, 1935; on CGospel1)
  • Rev. J. M. Gates, "Death's Black Train is Coming" (Columbia 14145-D,1926)
  • Harmon E. Helmick, "The Little Black Train" (Champion 16744, 1934)


  1. Cohen-LSRail, pp. 625-628, "Little Black Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BrownIII 541, "The Little Black Train" (1 text)
  3. Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 914-915, "Little Black Train Is A-Comin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Courlander-NFM, p. 41, "(Little Black Train)" (partial text)
  5. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 260-261, "The Little Black Train" (1 text)
  6. ST BAF914 (Partial)
  7. Roud #11594
  8. BI, BAF914


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1922 (Brown)
Keywords: death Bible train
Found in: US(SE)