Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Willis, 1850s?)

1862-Moore-CenturyPlant-Seabrook's-Cotton-11374v

According to the African American RegistryWallis Willis created the song “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” around 1840.  [For more on this, see also here.]

We like to pair it with the above 1862 photograph by Concord, NH’s own H.P Moore.  What is this woman thinking as she pauses in her labor (drying cotton) and looks out over a coastal South Carolina bay full of U.S. ships & soldiers?  What is her legal status (slave or free)?  Could the US Soldiers lounging on the dock belong to the 3rd NH Volunteers, then in service near Seabrook’s plantation?


SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT (Wallis Willis, 1850s?)

Chorus:
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.

Chorus

Sometimes I’m up, and sometimes I’m down,
    Coming for to carry me home
But still my soul feels heavenly bound.
    Coming for to carry me home

Chorus

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

Chorus


LISTEN HERE: Fiske Jubilee Singers, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” >>

RELATED: See “Ring Ring De Banjo” for a related quote by Frederick Douglass… >>

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