The Chain Gang (Anonymous)

“The Chain Gang” Sheet Music (pdf).
“The Chain Gang” Karaoke (midi with lyrics).

Lyrics: Anonymous.
Tune: A Russian Folk Song.


The sun o’er the steppes now is setting
And far off is gilding the grass,
And naught now is heard but the clanking
Of chains as the prisoners pass.

Cling, clang, cling, clang, pris’ners’ chains are dragging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, weary steps are lagging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, tolls the hopeless knell,
As they lead our bravest comrades to Siberia’s hell.

They walk, heads all shaven and hatless,
As thousands before them have marched,
With brows that are furrowed in anguish,
With sore hearts and lips that are parched.

Cling, clang, cling, clang, pris’ners’ chains are dragging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, weary steps are lagging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, tolls the hopeless knell,
As they lead our bravest comrades to Siberia’s hell.

The shadows are lengthening ever.
In darkness are wagon and horse,
And only the guards can be heard now,
Whose hearts feel no pain nor remorse.

Cling, clang, cling, clang, pris’ners’ chains are dragging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, weary steps are lagging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, tolls the hopeless knell,
As they lead our bravest comrades to Siberia’s hell.

A voice then is heard in the darkness,
“Brave brothers betray not your gloom.
The brave show self-mastery always
And never are crushed by their doom.”

Cling, clang, cling, clang, pris’ners’ chains are dragging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, weary steps are lagging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, tolls the hopeless knell,
As they lead our bravest comrades to Siberia’s hell.

They sing of their Great Mother Volga,
A mighty and gladdening tune
Of days when they yet had their freedom
And vow, “We’ll be free again soon!”

Cling, clang, cling, clang, pris’ners’ chains are dragging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, weary steps are lagging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, tolls the hopeless knell,
As they lead our bravest comrades to Siberia’s hell.

They sing of the steppes and their vastness,
Of freedom in deed and in word,
Till darkness has hidden their anguish
And only the chains can be heard.

Cling, clang, cling, clang, pris’ners’ chains are dragging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, weary steps are lagging;
Cling, clang, cling, clang, tolls the hopeless knell,
As they lead our bravest comrades to Siberia’s hell.


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