Serene Sunday: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

According to Wikipedia,  “Swing Low Sweet Chariot, a old African American spiritual was first written by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman in the old Indian Territory, sometime before 1862. He purportedly was inspired by the Red River, which reminded him of the Jordan River and of the Prophet Elijah’s being taken to heaven by a chariot (2 Kings 2:11). Many sources allege that the lyrics also referred to the Underground Railroad, the resistance movement that helped slaves escape from the South to the North and Canada.

Alexander Reid, a minister at a Choctaw boarding school, heard Willis singing these two songs and transcribed the words and melodies. He sent the music to the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Jubilee Singers popularized the songs during a tour of the United States and Europe.”

The song enjoyed a resurgence during the 1960s Civil Rights struggle and the folk revival. Perhaps the most famous performance was that by Joan Baez during the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival.”

Joan Baez – Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Live, 1969)

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8 thoughts on “Serene Sunday: Swing Low Sweet Chariot

  1. Ah, those were the days of good folk songs and some really silly pop songs with incredibly inane lyrics – which I loved! I’m trying to remember if it was Paul Robeson who had a wonderful version of “Swing low, etc.” out about the time he was in “Showboat” singing “Ole Man River”???? I saw that movie once on a Sunday afternoon on television when I was in my teens but I haven’t seen it anywhere since. I’ll look on YouTube later.

    Thank you for posting the link – I’m listening to Joan sing it right now. She and Judi Collins and a few others have/had such lovely pure voices.

    I’ve only just gotten through telling Matthew that I wished he hadn’t introduced me to YouTube as I never seem to be able to get off the site! I love that it has songs from all different times and I love that I can download to Real Player if I wish – not all, but some of my favourites.

    Matthew’s children are almost 4 and 2 – they are allowed a special treat of 10 minutes on YouTube prior to bedtime, so they can watch and listen to some of the songs from the movie “The Jungle Book”, amongst others. Asha Lily (4 on 16 Oct) also loves the Swedish chef from “The Muppets”.

    • Oh yes, I loved Judy Collins singing Both Sides Now and Send in the Clowns. Both Collins and Baez have such beautiful voices. You’re addicted to YouTube? Well, that should keep you busy for *years.* Ever thought of making your own videos?

  2. Could you come to Canberra (about 3 hours’ drive SW of Sydney) to teach me how?
    I barely even know how to use my digital camera!!!!

    • LOL! Well, maybe fanvidding is aiming a little too high. But you really should learn your camera. Really it’s easy. I think it’s the intimidation factor of using a new gadget whether the ease of use that bothers seniors most. Just jump right in there. Read the directions and play around. You can’t break the camera and eventually you’ll take good pics. 😀

  3. Actually, I don’t have a lot of use for my digital camera unless I’m visiting Melanie and her babies about once a year in Oceanside, CA, these days. Luckily, both Matthew and Melanie are excellent photographers and supply me with a huge number of photos of the babes and themselves and of places they visit.

    So that’s why I’m a bit useless with it!

    I will have to enquire if U3A (University of the 3rd Age….classes for the older generation) offers lessons in fanvidding!

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