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Swing Low Sweet Chariot

This hymn was said to be a favourite of Harriet Tubman, the “Moses of her people”. An escaped slave herself, Tubman risked her life to conduct hundreds of other slaves to safety and freedom. At one point in time, a $40,000 reward was offered by a group of slave owners for her capture, dead or alive.

Tubman loved spirituals, and even wrote her own. As part of the Underground Railroad, she was a Conductor, nurse, spy and scout. When guiding slaves, Tubman used spirituals as signals to hiding slaves to indicate whether it was safe to come out of hiding and continue on the journey. She used one song as a warning song to stay hidden, and another to communicate that it was safe to come out of hiding.

The chariot referred to in “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and other spirituals referred to the carriages and wagons used to transport fleeing slaves in the early 19th century. Later in the century, a faster-moving chariot became available in the form of the railroad train.

Lyrics:

Chorus:
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home!

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:

If you get there before I do,
Comin' for to carry me home,
Jess tell my friends that I'm acomin' too,
Comin' for to carry me home.

Chorus:

I'm sometimes up and sometimes down,
Comin' for to carry me home,
But still my soul feels heavenly bound
Comin' for to carry me home!

 

 

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