TEXT

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

The gospel hymnal is one of the classic Negro spirituals that have transformed generations. In this song, the Fisk Jubilee Singers sing about the figurative journey of enslaved people to their "home" in heaven.
Author
The Fisk Jubilee Singers
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concept 9. The video below may be retrieved from Nashville Public Television.

Swing low, sweet chariot 
Coming for to carry me home 
Swing low, sweet chariot 
Coming for to carry me home 

Swing low, sweet chariot 
Coming for to carry me home 
Swing low, sweet chariot 
Coming for to carry me home 

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 

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 

Sometimes I'm up sometimes I'm down 
Coming for to carry me home 
But still my soul feels heavenly bound 
Coming for to carry me home 

Coming for to carry me home 

Source
This text is courtesy of Nashville Public Television and PBS. It can be accessed at https://video.wnpt.org/video/swing-low-sweet-chariot-songs-stories-tn-civil-war-150-6ldy5/
Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    What is the resounding message of this song?
    Answer
    Swing low, the chariot is coming to take you home.
  2. Question
    What spiritual references were used in this song to empower the singer, or listener, of this hymnal?
    Answer
    Lord, Jordan, carry me home.
  3. Question
    The singers of this song wanted to tell a story. What story do you think they were aiming to express?
    Answer
    Answers will vary and may include reference to being together again in heaven.
  4. Question
    What hidden messages can be found in the lyrics that speak to the nature of struggle, survival and perseverance?
    Answer
    Answers will vary and may include “I’m sometimes up and I’m sometimes down” but “If I get there before you do … I’ll cut a hole and pull you through."
Reveal Answers
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