In "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," who is coming over Jordan to carry the speaker home?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is an African-American spiritual, a song written in a distinctive style combining Christianity with the slave experience. Spirituals are influenced by African musical traditions. While spirituals were originally monodic (all singers sang a single melody in unison), they have evolved to include intricate choral harmonies. 

"Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" may actually have been written by Wallis Willis, a member of the Choctaw tribe. It was popularized by the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University and became increasingly popular in the 1960s as part of a folk and protest song movement. 

The song is narrated in the first person and takes the form of direct address, with the speaker asking the "chariot" to swing low and "carry me home." The home in question is Heaven. Specifically, the speaker states:

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see...

A band of angels coming after me,

The angels are crossing the Jordan River to take the speaker home.