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Spirituals. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” “Go Down, Moses”. “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”. http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thz1zDAytzU. Directions: Complete the Words and Images handout while listening to this. “Go Down, Moses”. http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP5EfwBWgg0. Directions:

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“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

“Go Down, Moses”

swing low sweet chariot
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”



Complete the Words and Images handout while listening to this.

go down moses
“Go Down, Moses”



Complete the Words and Images handout while listening to this

background coded spirituals
Background: Coded Spirituals
  • Explanation of Coded Spirituals


  • Historical Reference and Explanation


swing low sweet chariot analysis
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” Analysis

Chorus:Swing low, sweet chariot,

Comin' for to carry me home;

Swing low, sweet chariot,

Comin' for to carry me home.

Sweet Chariot represents:

1-Biblical reference to prophet Elijah being carried home on a fiery chariot

2 - Underground Railroad (Metaphor)


Carry my Home represents

1 – Biblical reference to wanting salvation; going to heaven

2 – going “home” to freedom; Canada



swing low sweet chariot analysis1
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” Analysis

I looked over Jordan,

And WHAT did I see,

Comin' for to carry me home,

A band of angels comin' after me,

Comin' for to carry me home.

Jordan represents:

1 – River between Israel and Jordan

2 – The Ohio River



Band of Angels represents

1 – Angels of Heaven bringing person to salvation

2 – Underground Railroad (the people coming to help)



swing low sweet chariot analysis2
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Analysis

If you get there before I do,

Comin' for to carry me home,

Tell all my friends I'm comin' too,

Comin' for to carry me home

The main idea here is to let others know about the railroad, let others know about freedom and let others know it is time to move. Another idea is that once out you will help others find their way.

go down moses analysis
“Go Down, Moses” Analysis
  • Moses represents:
  • Biblical Moses who helped Hebrews escape oppression from the Pharaoh and Egyptians
  • Harriet Tubman – leader of Underground Railroad helping slaves run.
  • Go Down: Telling the leader to go deep into land of oppression (deep south)
  • Pharaoh represents:
  • Biblical Pharaoh
  • Slaveholder
  • Line 4: Constant repetition of asking to let the Hebrew/Slaves go.
  • (Metaphors and Allusions)

Go down, Moses,

Way down in Egypt land

Tell the Pharaoh

To Let my people go.

go down moses analysis1
“Go Down, Moses” Analysis

When Israel was in Egypt’s land;

Let my people go,

Oppressed so hard they could not stand,

Let my people go.

Lines 5 and 7 represent conditions the people are in. The harshness they have to endure.

go down moses analysis2
“Go Down, Moses” Analysis

“Thus spoke the Lord,” bold Moses said;

Let my people go,

If not I’ll smite your first born dead,

Let my people go

Each time Moses spoke he was being bold for standing up to Pharaoh. 1st because he was using the Lord’s name, 2nd because people considered the Pharaoh to be God.

Last plague that Moses told was going to happen to the Pharaoh if he did not let the people go. Warning that there will be bloodshed; both for Pharaoh and for Slaveholders.


A narrative that serves as an extended metaphor. The main purpose of an allegory is to tell a story that has characters, a setting, as well as other types of symbols, that have both literal and figurative meanings. The difference between an allegory and a symbol is that an allegory is a complete narrative that conveys abstract ideas to get a point across, while a symbol is a representation of an idea or concept that can have a different meaning throughout a literary work.