When the Chariot Comes

This spiritual found new life as the children’s song “She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain (When She Comes)!”

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This 1850s-era African-American spiritual was likely one of the pieces used to help guide escaping slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Later, mid-west and western railroad workers took the music and created secular lyrics, and the music gained new life as She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain (When She Comes), a popular children’s song. In that form, the music has been used and repurposed for many alternate and parody lyrics. It is an easy song to sing, as the lyrics are a single sentence repeated in various forms, changing only at each new stanza.

This arrangement, using the melody and rhythms as printed in the 1899 collection Old Plantation Hymns, includes block chord accompaniment, broken chord accompaniment, and contrapuntal melodic accompaniment. It has a slightly more stately sound than the children’s song that it evolved into, and can provide useful discussion about how music is used to communicate, and how music evolves and changes in the oral tradition (for example, because of the extended “comes” in the first line, the other lines in the song seem too short to someone familiar with ‘Round the Mountain)

Historical notes are given to add value, as they are in many of Alijam Music’s arrangements, and to aid in interpretation and musical understanding.

Key: G major

Mood: hopeful, stately

Pedagogy: finger substitution, dotted quarter-eighth rhythms, repeats


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