Home > Solo instrument + piano > Swing Low, Sweet Chariot for Trombone, Euphonium, Baritone & Keyboard

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot for Trombone, Euphonium, Baritone & Keyboard

Composer
trad.
Arranger
Difficulty
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
Duration
2 minutes
Genre
Jazz music
Instrumentation
Solo instrument + piano
Instrumental parts
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An arrangement of the spiritual ’Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, for Pro players of Trombone, Euphonium, Baritone and Keyboard.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" was first written by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman in the old Indian Territory, sometime before 1862. He 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. Many sources (see Songs of the underground railroad) claim that this song and "Steal Away"—also composed by Willis—had lyrics that 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; it was performed by a number of artists. Perhaps the most famous performance during this period was that by Joan Baez during the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival.

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