Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

As the next installment in my personal calendar’s Overcomer’s Week, I offer “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”   The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture recounts the story of how Wallis Willis (Uncle Wallace), a Choctaw freedman, and his wife (Aunt Minerva) came to have their “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” transcribed as a hymn.  Slaves and former slaves certainly had their share of overcoming to do.  This historic Spiritual is widely thought to refer not only to the prophet Elijah’s being taken up into heaven by a chariot (2 Kings 2:11), but also to the Underground Railroad, the resistance movement helping many slaves overcome as they escaped from the South to the North (and Canada).

Wallis Willis composed other “plantation songs” as well. “Steal Away to Jesus” obviously speaking of going home to Jesus at the trumpet sound, but is also thought to refer to the Underground Railroad.  Both were popularized by the Jubilee Singers from Fisk University who were raising funds for education among the Choctaw freedmen.

Music has a way of encouraging us as we persevere.  Enjoy this version of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” sung by Kathleen Battle and the Boys Choir of Harlem.

swing low sweet chariot
















Well, I looked over Jordan and what did I see,  Comin’ for to carry me home,  A band of angels comin’ after me,  Comin’ for to carry me home.


Chorus: Swing low, sweet chariot,  Comin’ for to carry me home, Swing low, sweet chariot,  Comin’ for to carry me home.


Well, If you get there before I do, Comin’ for to carry me home, Tell all of my friends that I’m a-comin’ too,  I’m comin’ for to carry me home. Chorus.



Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on August 7, 2013

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