May
2013

She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

TITLE: She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: travel
EARLIEST DATE: 1924 (recording, Henry Whitter)

AmerSongbagSandburgShe’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain, often regarded as children’s ditty. The first printed version of the song appeared in 1927 in Carl Sandburg’s The American Songbag, although the song is much older.

Some theories argue that the song is exactly what it sounds like: celebrating the arrival of a supply train. Others believe it’s a metaphor for Mary Harris “Mother” Jones organizing coal miner labor unions. But the real origin is even darker: She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain is actually based on a slave-era spiritual called When the Chariot Comes. The two songs share the same melody, structure and even some lyrics — the iconic “when she comes” chant is present in both versions. 

Notably different, though, are original lyrics like “King Jesus, he’ll be driver when she comes” and “She’ll be loaded with bright angels when she comes.” “When the Chariot Comes” and, by extension, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,” are both songs about the Rapture — the day when Jesus comes back to earth to play favorites. “She” actually refers to the chariot he’ll be riding down to bring about the End of Days.  (from 5 Terrifying Origin Stories Behind Popular Children’s Songs)

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Comin’ Round the Mountain
  • When the Chariot Comes

RECORDINGS:

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She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain

She’ll be  coming ’round the mountain when she comes
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she  comes
She’ll be  coming ’round the  mountain,
She’ll be  coming ’round the mountain,
She’ll be  coming ’round the  mountain when she  comes!

She’ll be  driving six white horses when she comes
She’ll be driving six white horses when she  comes
She’ll be  driving six white  horses,
She’ll be  driving six white horses,
She’ll be  driving six white  horses when she  comes!

Oh, we’ll  all go out to meet her when she comes
Oh, we’ll all go out to meet her when she  comes
Oh, we’ll  all go out to  meet her,
We’ll  all go out to meet her,
We’ll all  go out to  meet her when she  comes!

She’ll be  coming ’round the mountain when she comes
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she  comes
She’ll be  coming ’round the  mountain,
She’ll be  coming ’round the mountain,
She’ll be  coming ’round the  mountain when she  comes!

TEACHER PAGES

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music, Guthrie T. Meade, Jr. with Dick Spottswood and Douglas S. Meade, Southern Folklife Collection, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, NC 2002—Amazon Books
  • Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore (1952), Volume 3. Edited by Henry M Beldin and Arthur Palmer Hudson. Duke University Press. [This volume will be indexed on this site in the weeks to come.]
  • Sandburg, Carl. The American Songbag. 1927 Harcourt, Brace, and Company. [This volume will be indexed on this site in the weeks to come.]—Amazon Books
  • Folk Songs of North America (in the English Language), Alan Lomax, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York 1960—Amazon Books

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks.sgg

 

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