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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Five Examples Of "Swing Down Sweet Chariot And Let Me Ride"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents five examples of African American religious song "Swing Down Chariot And Let Me Ride". This song is also known as "Slow Down Chariot" (Stop And Let Me Ride) and "Low Down The Chariot And Let Me Ride".

The content of this post is presented for historical, religious and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the unknown composers of this song and thanks to the featured vocalists. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

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COMMENTS ABOUT THIS SONG
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41800is "Chariot Spirituals" an interesting discussion about "Swing Down Sweet Chariot and Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Here are two of those comments:

posted by Q on June 24, 2003 in response to a guest David Neale's questions about this song and his statement that "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and "Swing Down Chariot.." were both originally part of the same song, but have somehow become separated in time:
"You are asking a question to which there is no answer.
The chariot was a frequent image in the old 19th and early 20th century spirituals; some of the songs are related and some are not (of course, no authors are known). The Fisk Jubilee Singers were just one of the early groups that sang the song (their choral organization goes back to the 1870s; that of the Hampton Institute started almost as early and they are only the two best known of the early groups singing spirituals). Both groups sang "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" in the 1870s. The Fisk recording date of 1910 thus is not useful since the song was sung by their touring group and other groups long before that.

Many singers have recorded their own versions of these songs. The Cleveland Index does not list a "Swing Down..." in their list of spirituals; it may be fairly recent. It is listed as traditional at this website, but many of these sites have incorrect attributions....

A number of gospel and art versions that are identified with a singer or a group, but identifying the primary source of their particular version is difficult if not impossible. Did they get it from their church? Versions sung by different congregations could vary widely. Did they synthesize it from other versions, either from books or other singers?

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[posted by masato sakurai on June 28, 2003]:
"H.T. Burleigh arranged "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," which was published by G. Ricordi in 1917; it was definitely not "Swing Down Sweet Chariot". The sheet music is at Historic American Sheet Music. Fisk University Jubilee Singers didn't record "Swing Down Sweet Chariot"; their version was "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". According to Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943, 4th ed. (Oxford UP), the recordings of "Swing Down Chariot (Let Me Ride)" were made by the Mississippi Gospel Singers (1941) and the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet (1946)."
-snip-
My comments:
"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "Swing Down Sweet Chariot Lord And Let Me Ride" aren't the same song. However, it's very likely that "Swing Down Sweet Chariot" was inspired by the traditional "Swing Low" Spiritual.

"Swing Down Chariot And Let Me Ride" is referred to as a hymn, a camp meeting song, a Spiritual, and/or an early Gospel song. This song might be an African American Spiritual - since its likely that only a small number of Spirituals that were sung in the 19th century were collected. However, the way this song was first recorded in the 1940s probably wasn't the way it was sung in the 19th century.

I think it's most likely that "Swing Down Chariot And Let Me Ride" is an early Gospel song with no known composer rather than a Spiritual.

I learned "Swing Down Sweet Chariot And Let Me Ride" in the 1950s (in a Baptist church in Atlantic City, New Jersey), but I remembered the title as "Swing That Chariot (Lord) And Let Me Ride". That title is probably my misremembering what was being sung.

"Low Down Chariot" may be the earliest title for the song that became "Swing Down Sweet Chariot". "Low Down" probably means "lower down" as in "Fly down lower."

The title "Slow Down Chariot" may have been sung because the "Low Down" was misheard or misremembered. Or the singer reasoned that if the chariot flying in the sky would slow down, he or she could more easily hop on board and be taken up to the home on the other side (heaven).

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EARLY LYRICS FOR "SWING DOWN CHARIOT" ("LOW DOWN CHARIOT")
Here are two early examples of lyrics for this song. Both were published by Dicho in December 2001 in that Mudcat thread whose link was previously given.

LYR ADD: SWING LOW, CHARIOT

Swing low, chariot, low in de Eas',
Let God's people have some peace,
Gwine to ride in de chariot in de mornin',
Swing low-
Gwine to ride in de chariot in de mornin',
Elijah,
Gwine to ride in de chariot in de mornin'.

Swing low, chariot, low in de Wes',
Let God's people have some rest,
Gwine to ride in de chariot in de mornin',
Swing low- etc.

Swing low chariot, low in de North,
Let God's people have a talk,
Gwine to ride in de chariot in de mornin',
Swing low- etc.

Swing low chariot, low in the South,
Let God's people have a shout,
Gwine to ride in de chariot in de mornin',
Swing low- etc.

First two lines of each verse and Swing low-; Elijah-; were sung solo by the Hampton Singers. Spiritual sung "Moderato con enthusiasma."
N. P. Dett, 1927, Religious Folk Songs of the Negro, p. 100, with music.

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LOW DOWN CHARIOT

Oh, let-n me ride, oh, let-n me ride,
Oh, let-n me ride, Oh, let-n me ride,
Oh, let-n me ride, oh, let-n me ride,
Oh, low down the chariot, let-n me ride.

Got a right to ride, oh, let-n me ride,
Got a right to ride, oh, let-n me ride,
Got a right to ride, oh, let'n me ride,
Oh, low down the chariot, let me ride.

3. Got a ticket to ride, etc.
4. I'm humble to ride, etc.
5. I'm beggin' to ride, etc.
6. I'm a soldier, etc.
7. My mother done rid, etc.
8. Train's comin', etc.
9. I'm a warrior, etc.
10. I'm prayin', etc.
11. Prayin' to ride, etc.

Vera Hall and Dock Reed, Livingston Al. John A. and Alan Lomax, 1941, Our Singing Country, p. 36, with music.

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Here's a version of "Swing Down Chariot" as it is more contemporaneously sung (although I believe that the Blind Boys Of Alabama sung this version in the late 1950s)

Swing Down Chariot - (with Blind Boys Of Alabama) Lyrics

Well, well, well, well
I looked over yonder and what I see seems like a chariot coming after me
Swing low, sweet chariot, coming to carry me home

Why dont you swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Rock me, Lord, rock me, Lord, calm and easy
Ive got a home on the other side

Swing, swing, swing
Well, Ezekiel was out in the middle of the field
He said he saw an angel with a chariot wheel
He wasnt too particular about the chariot wheel
He just wanted to see how a chariot feels

Why dont you swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Rock me, Lord, rock me, Lord, calm and easy
Ive got a home on the other side

Swing, swing, swing, swing, swing, swing
Well, Ezekiel went down and he got on board
The chariot went bumping on down the road
Zeke wasnt particular about the bumpin of the road
He just wanted to lay down his heavy load

Why dont you swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Rock me, Lord, rock me, Lord, calm and easy
Ive got a home on the other side

Well, I got a Father in the promised land and I aint stopping till I shake His hand
Rock me, Lord, rock me, Lord, calm and easy
I got a home on the other side

Swing down, sweet chariot, stop and let me ride
Swing down chariot, stop and let me ride
Rock me, Lord, rock me, Lord, calm and easy
Ive got a home on the other side

Source http://www.metrolyrics.com/swing-down-chariot-with-blind-boys-of-alabama-lyrics-randy-travis.html
-snip-
The words that are sung by The Golden Gate Quartet [Example #1] are very similar to the Blind Boys Of Alabama's lyrics. I don't know which of these Gospel Quartets were the first to record this song.

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FEATURED EXAMPLES
These examples are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dated examples given first.

Example #1: The Golden Gate Quartet - Swing Down Sweet Chariot



SyberkaPL, Uploaded on Apr 7, 2009

Live from Yugoslavia in 1967.
From left: Caleb Ginyard Jr., Orlandus Wilson, Clyde Riddick, Clyde Wright
-snip-
According to a publisher of a soundfile of The Golden Gate Quartet singing this song, that group first recorded this in 1946. recorded in 1946.

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Example #2: Deacon Jessie Phelps Low Down The Chariot Let Me Ride



k phelps Uploaded on Oct 21, 2010

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Example #3: Dr. C.J. Johnson - Slow Down Chariot, Let Me Ride - Gospel



Gospel Experience, Published on Mar 27, 2012

Vos places pour le Gospel Festival de Paris 2013 ici :

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Example #4: Shiloh Quartet - Swing down chariot stop and let me ride



Jeff Mweemba, Published on Apr 6, 2013

Hope you enjoy this one by Shiloh.

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Example #5: Swing Down Chariot -by Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes (live)



Gail Vaughn, Published on Mar 6, 2014

'Swing down sweet chariot stop and let me ride.... rock me Lord, rock me Lord, calm and easy, I've got a home on the other side'

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