Amish Sing “I Am Free” Underground In NYC (Video)

We’ve lately seen photos of Amish on the beach on Staten Island, so how about Amish singing an uplifting Christian song in the NYC subway?

Beautifully sung.

There is some discussion in the Youtube comments over whether these are Amish, or a Mennonite or other Anabaptist church.

Would you recognize this group as Amish?

These people have the appearance of mainstream-to-progressive Amish, and going by things like the men’s hair (and the basic fact that they are singing in NYC) I would say they are of a New Order Amish persuasion.

This next video is of lower quality, but also appears to be a similar (maybe the same?) group of Amish.

The location is described as “grand central, New York,” though it is confusingly labeled as “Mennonite church choir”:

For that matter there are several other videos on Youtube showing other Plain groups singing, not Amish but of other Anabaptist background.

This group is described as Amish, but you can see right away by the girls’ prayer coverings that this is not a horse-and-buggy Amish church:

This male-heavy group is singing at Penn Station. The choir leader guides the tune:

And finally, here is the “choir of the Richland Mennonite Church” lifting their voices somewhere in the subway system:

Sometimes Amish and other plain Anabaptists are drawn to the nation’s largest city as tourists. It seems there is also some custom of singing Christian songs under the streets of New York.

It’s a form of soft evangelization and witness that no doubt catches the eyes and ears of at least some passersby in the Big Apple underground (category #5 of occasions when Amish sing).

And it probably takes some amount of courage to belt out religious songs in public in a big secular-minded city like that.

I found it inspiring. I hope it uplifts the people who are fortunate enough to hear these hymns.

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    30 Comments

    1. Cheri

      Beautiful...

      I can listen to the Amish sing all day long. A couple of years ago I sent you (the owner of this site) an audio clip of some young Amish children signing in school in Lancaster with hopes for it to be shared. Thank you for sharing this video though – definitely brightened my day to hear them.

      1. Cheri I’m going to go back and check for that. It’s possible I wasn’t able to upload it or might have been prevented sharing for another reason. I’ll take another look for that clip you sent. Anyway glad you liked this one!

        1. Cheri

          Forwarded....

          Hi Erik, I find the original e-mail that I sent to you and forwarded it again to you (just a few minutes ago)… I hope you receive it this time. If you can’t download it, let me know and I can try to change the format that it is in.

          1. Cheri

            Typo..

            Oops…sorry for the typo, I meant, “I found”….

          2. Thanks Cheri – I checked and I received it. I’ll see about downloading it and get back to you.

    2. Fran Handrick

      Amish Group Singing

      I would say they are New Order Amish probably from Ohio. Beautiful singing.

      1. Someone just emailed me saying that she recognized the group as New Order Amish from the Sugarcreek, Ohio area. Another contact from Ohio also emailed that it is an Amish group, I am guessing maybe he might recognize someone there as well.

    3. Patrick J.

      Shoes?

      Is it normal for Amish to wear Nike’s?

      1. In a lot of Amish communities, especially the larger and more “mainstream”, you will see people wearing athletic, sneaker or walking-type shoes for comfort. Nikes I’ve noticed more often on youth; Skechers is a popular brand even with adults.

    4. Doug Douglass

      Choristers

      Last year I saw a Plain group singing at the Times Square station. Acknowledged they were Mennonite. Gave me a religious tract with name and address of Lebanon County church which I don’t recall.

    5. Geo

      touching

      Whatever denomination they may belong to I like what they are doing. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe I like it because it seems to bring some warmth and humanity to a cold hard hostile big city.

    6. John Kevin Ingraham

      How Wonderful

      God’s word needs to get out to a lost world…. They do sing like angels sharing the word.

      God Bless

    7. Brother Jeremy

      Mennonite

      No,these are not all Amish. They are a branch sect of the most Conservative,(not O.O.M.)Mennonites who engage in this type of street singing as part of their belief to evangelize in this way.

      1. You are referring to one or all of the bottom several videos as Mennonite groups? The top 1-2 look to be a New Order Amish group. Men can have quite short haircuts in that group.

      2. Maureen, New York

        Brother Jeremy

        I showed both an Old Order Mennonite and. a Conservative Amish these videos. Both agreed with you.

    8. Maureen, New York

      Different Look

      Erik!

      Really enjoyed these videos. I’m familiar with the mostly conservative Amish groups, but even the Old Order is more conservative than the groups featured in these videos. When not barefoot, women wear black new balance type oxfords or some conservative black sneaker, and black knee high socks. There is allowance for girls under age ten, however. No pastels, no prints, no red of any hue. Backpacks are solid black, dark brown, or navy and are usually carried by children. Women carry a long strapped shoulder tote, handmade of dark tight knit. In public, the women especially, are always immaculate – and never without a white Kapp. I’ve heard them sing only on Sunday – the men’s baritone and base voices are are dominant, and the hymns are soleum.

      The Mennonites here follow simiilar consrevative dress, in addition they have instruments [organ, piano, and violin] at their services, with cheerier hymns similar to these videos.

      Your article certainly depicts many differences across our country. It’s wonderful to learn about all the distinctions. Thank you.

    9. Randy A

      Beautiful

      Wish the Amish/Mennonite in my area would do this. Thanks, Erik.

    10. Marie

      Amish or Mennonite?

      The first 3 videos are New Order Amish and the 2 closer to the bottom are Mennonite. Beautiful singing.

    11. Houston Gaither

      I thoroughly enjoyed these videos and appreciate the witness for Christ and plain living in these public places!

    12. Lowell Yoder

      I agree with the earlier comments the first 2 groups were new order Amish from Holmes County. The third group Beachy Amish. The fourth group could be part of the Maranatha Amish Mennonites (split from the Beachy Church) and the last group looked like they were from Nationwide Fellowship Churches. I have found the Beachy and Maranatha groups to have a more outreach/evangelistic theology so it would not surprise me that they would be singing in a busy public place.

      1. Nicholas

        I too agree the first two groups look to be New Order Amish, judging by what details can be seen in the clothes in the videos. The kapps of the sisters are Amish style, certainly. I don’t know if any Amish Mennonite groups still use that type. Glad Erik shared a couple contacts comments on the groups.
        I too first thought that the third video group looked like the Maranatha conference folks from the sisters’ headcoverings, but I noticed some of the brothers had mustaches. At least one Maranatha congregation prohibits mustaches. A friend in the Beachys has commented before that most Beachy churches now use the hanging veil type head covering for the sisters. This style is also common in the so-called Charity churches. I defer to Lowell’s comment on the 4th group being Nationwide fellowship. I looked up Richland Mennonite Church and it’s listed as part of the Eastern Pennsylvania Mennonite Church affiliation on pilgrimministry.org. I had better luck identifying the hymns being sung! I never get tired of this kind of singing. Thanks for sharing Erik!

        1. Glad you liked it, Nicholas. I appreciate your comments on who the other groups might be. I don’t claim to be able to distinguish the dress of the many different Mennonite and related higher Anabaptist churches in especially great detail. As far as the Amish singing, we’ll have at least one or two more clips this week, so stay tuned:)

    13. Leslie Harris

      Amish Sing “I Am Free” Underground In NYC

      As much as I admire The Plain communities around our nation, as a city dweller I take exception to the “us-vs-them” mentality that can take hold on blogs like these. My concern is toward the idea that all that is small-town, concervative, and Plain is good and cities, with few exceptions, are cold, hostile, godless places to be feared and avoided at all costs (except of course during tourist season).

      I don’t think the assumption should be that city people are not affected positively by the lovely singing these groups treated them to but that as they hurried to their various obligations (appointments, jobs, etc.) that they were somehow comforted or touched by what they heard and found common ground, or a similarity to the hymns they heard in any church services they attended (if any).

      What ultimately matters is a person’s connection to God and to those thay love, as well as those they reach out to care for, help and nurture.

      Anything else is just geography.

      1. nts

        Except that a lot of people who see them singing in person express that they “look like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale”. The overwhelming attitude in NYC is that everyone outside of the city is either backwards or from a ‘quaint town’.

        Without the Us vs. Them attitude, which is a creation of the institutions in NYC in thinking that their money carries the rest of the state, New York City would be a lacking a major part of their pseudo-culture. That same attitude is even present in your own comment.

        1. Leslie Harris

          Amish Sing “I Am Free” Underground In NYC

          You’re right, I’m wrong, you’re perfect, thank God. I’m not getting into a beef with some stranger. I’m done.

      2. Yoder in Ohio
        1. Yoder in Ohio

          I mean I was responding to Leslie Harris’s comment on “Amish Singing.” I really liked the “everything else is just geography” idea.

      3. Leslie I would say that pound-for-pound a city like NYC is undeniably more secular and worldly than a place like Holmes County, Ohio, which is where these Amish apparently come from – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t devout religious people in large cities.

        On the contrary I would assume that some and perhaps many passersby did appreciate this singing, even people who might not be devoutly religious. 

        I think the point is that a busy city subway is not the traditional place where you’d find the most receptive of all audiences for Christian singing, all things considered.

        So I would stand by this statement I wrote in the post: “And it probably takes some amount of courage to belt out religious songs in public in a big secular-minded city like that.”

        It doesn’t mean they are going to get tomatoes thrown at them. But the chances of getting a negative reception with hundreds of different people from all backgrounds, persuasions, and walks of life passing by are certainly higher than if they were singing on a street corner in Berlin, Ohio. 

        But as a city dweller myself, I think I understand what you are saying. Like Yoder, I appreciate your comment on geography – and also a person’s connection to God. Well said.

    14. FANTASTIC!

      That was simply DIVINE GRACE! 😉