Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Full Text

Refrain:
Swing low, sweet chariot,
coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
coming for to carry me home.

1 I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home.
A band of angels coming after me,
coming for to carry me home. [Refrain]

2 If you get there before I do,
coming for to carry me home.
Tell all my friends I’m coming too,
coming for to carry me home. [Refrain]

3 The brightest day that ever I saw;
coming for to carry me home.
When Jesus washed my sins away,
coming for to carry me home. [Refrain]

4 I’m sometimes up and sometimes down,
coming for to carry me home.
But still my soul feels heavenly bound,
coming for to carry me home. [Refrain]

Source: Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #469

Notes

This is one of the best-known African American spirituals in Christian history. Its source is the oral tradition of African Americans, but the concerts of the Fisk Jubilee Singers (PHH 476) and the Hampton Singers brought "Swing Low" to the attention of white audiences. J. B. T. Marsh includes an early version of text and tune in his The Story of the Jubilee Singers, with their Songs (1876 ed.).

Considered by Erik Routley (PHH 31) to be one of the "archetypal" African American spirituals, "Swing Low" welcomes death as the occasion "to carry me home" to glory. The text incorporates the imagery of “Jordan” and "chariot" from the Old Testament narratives of Elijah's ascent into heaven (2 Kings 2). In spite of the "ups" and "downs" of earthly life (st. 3), it is comforting for Christians to know with certainty that their final destination is the glory of a new heaven and earth.

Liturgical Use:
Advent; times of hardship; with preaching on 2 Kings 2 or on eschatological topics.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune

SWING LOW

A pentatonic melody, SWING LOW has the musical structure of "call and response" (solo and chorus) which is common in the rote practices associated with African American spirituals. Use a vocal soloist or a small group of voices for the marked unison segments and have the entire congregation sing the…

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Instances

Instances (1 - 68 of 68)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
A. M. E. C. Hymnal #618
Adult Bible Class Hymnal No. 1 #d45
African American Heritage Hymnal #539Text
American Student Hymnal #d125
Better Convention Songs, Our 1929 Book #d43
Calvary Hymns #297Page Scan
Chalice Hymnal #643Text
Coleman's Songs for Men #d44
Cornelius' Gospel Songs #206
Cornelius' Gospel Songs No. 2 #d69
Cornelius' Gospel Songs No. 3 #206Page Scan
Cornelius' Gospel Songs No. 4 #d64
Cross and Crown Hymnal, 3rd ed. #d154
Devotion in Motion #d6
Folk Songs of the American Negro (No. 1) #48Text
Foursquare Hymnal of Standard Songs of Evangelism #d72
Foursquare Hymnal of Standard Songs of Evangelism #183
Gems of Love #d54
Glorious Theme #133Page Scan
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #825Text InfoTextAudio
Gospel Jubilee and Soul Melodies #d18
Gospel Pearls #148Page Scan
Gospel Quintet Songs #d60
Gospel Songs #d55
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #470
Hymns for Worship #d73
Hymns of Fellowship #d53
Hymns of Hope #d67
Hymns of Promise: a large print songbook #137Page Scan
Hymns of the Rural Spirit #d32
Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #704
Lift Every Voice and Sing II: an African American hymnal #18Text
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #469TextFlexscorePage Scan
Plantation Melodies and Spiritual Songs. 3d ed. #d37
Praises #d35
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #617Text InfoTune InfoTextAudioPage Scan
Rescue songs: words and music with standard selections #68Page Scan
Seth Parker's Hymnal #229Page Scan
Seth Parker's Hymnal. 5th ed. #d59
Songs for Life #197TextPage Scan
Songs for Service Men #d25
Songs for Worship #d66
Songs of hope #d96
Songs of Praise for Schools #d38
Songs of the Blessed Hope #d74
Songs of the Gospel #d47
Sunshine Songs No. 2, a Collection of Gospel Specials Sung by the Sunshine Duo, Johnson and Gustafson #d30
Tabernacle Revivalist #d63
The A.M.E. Zion Hymnal: official hymnal of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church #586
The Abingdon Song Book #d93
The Campers Hymnal, Songs for the Out-of-Doors #d47
The Cokesbury Worship Hymnal #d81
The Cyber Hymnal #6434TextScoreAudio
The Highway Hymnal: a choice collection of popular hymns and music, new and old. Arranged for the work in camp, convention, church and home #29Page Scan
The Hymnal: Army and Navy #610
The New National Baptist Hymnal #486
The Service Song Book #d53
The United Methodist Hymnal #703Text
The White Ribbon Hymnal: or, Echoes of the Crusade #d44
The Youth Hymnary #d87
This Far By Faith: an African American resource for worship #171TextPage Scan
Three Hundred Country Chapel Songs and Hymns #d85
World Wide Revival Songs for the Church, Sunday School and Evangelistic Meetings #d80
Worship and Rejoice #520TextScoreFlexscoreAudioPage Scan
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #249
Youth Inspiral #d31
Youth Worship and Sing #d89
찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship: the Korean-English Presbyterian hymnal and service book #384
Exclude 50 pre-1979 instances



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