This old tune has had many lives, beginning as a spiritual most usually called "The Gospel Train." As a matter of fact, it was a regular part of the repertoire of the famous Fisk University Jubilee Singers as "De Gospel Train." This ensemble toured the world in the decades following the Civil War and were acclaimed for their concert renditions of gospel songs, folk songs, and spirituals.
In recent years it has become a popular children's song, always fun to sing because of the rhythmic vitality of the chorus. For this arrangement, we have done our own adaptation of the lyrics to make them appropriate for any school. If you wish to use the older gospel lyrics, you will find a number of variations on the Internet.
We have amplified the train aspect of the song with the percussion, and with the train whistle imitation in the winds and vocal parts. Even your boys will join in energetically for the "Whoo-woo!" We have included an optional patsch part (thigh slapping), which we suggest doing with two hands, but in an alternating manner so that only one hand patsches at a time.
Let us suggest one other small variation on the song that will add some pizzazz. When you get to the chorus each time, divide the singers to let one group sing "Get on board," and another to sing "little children." It could be half and half in stereo fashion, or with a solo or small ensemble being answered by the rest of your singers.