“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”


Black spiritual: "Swing low, sweet chariot/Coming for to carry me home"; "I looked over Jordan and what did I see/.../A band of angels comin' after me"; "If you get there before I do/.../Tell all my friends I'm a-comin' too"


Guy Logsdon & Jeff Place state that the songs were taught to the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1871 by two former slaves from the Indian Territory (Oklahoma), Aunt Minerva Willis & Uncle Wallace. See "The Presbyterian", Sept. 10, 1890, and Thoburn & Wright's "Oklahoma: A History of the State and Its People."

The subtext of running away to freedom is clear throughout this song; the fact that the title is a pun on the name of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, may or may not be accidental. - PJS

Cross references


  • Carroll Clark, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Black Swan 2024, 1921)
  • Cotton Pickers Quartet, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (OKeh 8917, 1931)
  • Lt. Jim Europe's Four Harmony Kings, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Pathe 22187, 1919) (Pathe 020581, 1923 [as Jim Europe's Four Harmony Kings])
  • Fisk University Jubilee Quartet, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (Victor 16453, 1910; rec. 1909)
  • Fisk University Male Quartet, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Columbia A1883, 1915; Silvertone 3294 [as Border Male Quartet], n.d.)
  • The Four Jacks, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (Allen 21000, n.d. but post-wwii)
  • Mabel Garrison, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Victor 640, 1901)
  • Hampton Institute Quartette, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (RCA 27470, 1941)
  • Roland Hayes, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Vocalion [US & UK] 21003, n.d.; Supertone, 1931)
  • Hall Johnson Negro Choir, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Victor 36020, 1930)
  • Kanawha Singers, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Brunswick 205, 1928)
  • Mitchell's Christian Singers, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (Melotone 6-04-64, 1936)
  • Norman Phelps & his Virginia Rounders, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" (Decca 5247, 1936)
  • Paul Robeson, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Victor 20068, 1926) (HMV [UK] 8372/Victor 25547, 1937)
  • Pete Seeger, "Swing Low" (on PeteSeeger24)
  • Southern Four, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Edison 51364, 1924)
  • Standard Quartette, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (CYL: Columbia, no #, 1894)
  • Taylor Sisters, Mae Helen Blakeney, soloist, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (on HandMeDown2)
  • Tuskegee Institute Singers, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Victor 17890, 1916)


  1. PSeeger-AFB, p. 16, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 608-610, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 28, (no title) (1 fragment of 2 lines)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 353, "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (1 text)
  6. Roud #5435
  7. BI, PSAFB016


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1872 (publ. in Theodore B. Seward, "Jubilee Songs, as Sung by the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University")
Found in: US