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Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Representative 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 I’m sometimes up, I'm sometimes down,
coming for to carry me home;
but still my soul feels heavenly bound,
coming for to carry me home. [Refrain]

Source: Hymns of Promise: a large print songbook #137

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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The Cyber Hymnal #6434
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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #617
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Worship and Rejoice #520

Instances

Instances (1 - 18 of 18)
Text

Chalice Hymnal #643

TextPage Scan

Hymns of Promise #137

Text

Lift Every Voice and Sing II #18

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #617

The A.M.E. Zion Hymnal #586

TextScoreAudio

The Cyber Hymnal #6434

The New National Baptist Hymnal #486

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Worship and Rejoice #520

Text

African American Heritage Hymnal #539

Text InfoTextAudio

Glory to God #825

Text

Hymns for a Pilgrim People #470

Text

Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #704

Text

The United Methodist Hymnal #703

TextPage Scan

This Far By Faith #171

Text

Worship in Song #249

찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship #384

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Lift Up Your Hearts #469

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Songs for Life #197

Include 50 pre-1979 instances
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