She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

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"She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" (also sometimes called simply "Coming 'Round the Mountain") is a traditional folk song often categorized as children's music.

The song is derived from a Christian song known as "When the Chariot Comes". The song's style is reminiscent of the call and response structure of many folk songs. Songs of similar verse-structure, with variant melodies, can be traced back to 17th-century British radical protestants and later commonly appeared in ballads as well as religious songs: examples include "What Wondrous Love Is This", "Brave Benbow", "The Ballad of Captain Kidd", "Sam Hall"[1] and "Ye Jacobites by Name".

Old spiritual[edit]

Although the first printed version of the song appeared in Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag in 1927, it is believed to have originated during the late 1800s, based on an old spiritual titled "When the Chariot Comes" sung to the same melody, which during the 19th century spread through Appalachia, where the lyrics were changed into their current form.

The song ostensibly refers to the Second Coming of Christ and subsequent Rapture, with the she referring to the chariot the returning Christ is imagined as driving. Like most[citation needed] spirituals originating in the African-American community, however, this was probably a coded anthem for the Underground Railroad.

Children's song[edit]

The secularized version was sung by railroad work gangs in the Midwestern United States in the 1890s. Currently the song is usually sung in collections of children's music. The song has been recorded by musicians ranging from Tommy Tucker Time (78'inch) to Pete Seeger or Barney the Dinosaur.

Harking back to the original lyrics of "When the Chariot Comes", the song is sometimes referenced in relation to the end of the world, most notably in The Illuminatus! Trilogy and the comic book Promethea.

Variations[edit]

  • A Famous Studios Screen Song, "Comin' Round the Mountain" was released based on this song, and is the featured sing-along song of the cartoon.
  • At least two soccer chants are sung to the tune of this song: English fans chant "Ten German Bombers" when their team is playing Germany. And Newcastle United fans chant "Ten Mackem Bastards" – celebrating Shola Ameobi's excellent record against their local rivals Sunderland.
  • Jibjab created a satire about George W. Bush's re-election called "Second Term" to the tune of "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain".
  • The Peanuts cast performed the song in the 1977 film Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown. It was performed by The Winans in This is America, Charlie Brown in its episode "Building of the Transcontinental Railroad".
  • The German Songs "Tante aus Marokko" and "Von den blauen Bergen kommen wir" as well as the Dutch song "Tante uit Marokko" share the same melody and some elements from the text.
  • The Danish song "Du må få min sofacykel" has the same melody, but the lyrics of the song are about someone giving away their "sofa bike", a bike with a back rest.
  • The Malaysian Scout song, "Lai Chi Kan", uses the tune.
  • Greek song of the post-war era also titled Ju pi -ja or "Tinos einai vre gynaika ta paidia" with same melody and satirical content related to the passage of Nazi, Italian and British armies through Greece during the war.
  • The Italian Boy Scouts used to sing the song with very approximate English lyrics or unrelated Italian ones up until the 'Eighties. It was called "Singhingaia" from the refrain.
  • Some sports fans at the University of Cambridge use this tune to sing "we would rather be at Oxford than St John's".[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bertrand Harris Bronson, The Ballad as Song, University of California Press, 1969, Chapter Two
  2. ^ Let's Go London, Oxford & Cambridge: The Student Travel Guide. ISBN 1612370292. 

Further Reading[edit]

  • Sandburg, C., The American Songbag. 1st ed. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1927. p. 372
  • Studwell, William E. Lest We Worget: a chronological historical survey of some of the most notable songs of the first half of the 20th century. Bloomington, Indiana: Many Musician Memories, 2001. Print.