The story behind the song, ‘She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain’

Promethea

Every now and then I get the song She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain, totally randomly, for no real reason. I’m pretty sure I sang the song as a child, but I definitely never knew what the meaning was. It wasn’t till about 7 or 8 years ago that I was re-introduced to the song, through a comic called Promethea. Throughout the series there are characters singing the tune, which used as a prelude to the end of the world. When viewed that way it’s the song takes an entirely different meaning which is pretty interesting to me. For whatever reason, it popped back into my head again so i decided to look it up.

According to Wikipedia, the song is in reference to a spiritual song sung by enslaved Africans during the lat 1800’s. The song was actually a reference to the second coming of Christ and the Rapture. Here are the original lyrics:

O, who will drive the chariot When she comes? O, who will drive the chariot When she comes? O, who will drive the chariot, O, who will drive the chariot, O, who will drive the chariot When she comes?

King Jesus, he’ll be driver when she comes, When she comes . . . .
She’ll be loaded with bright Angels When she comes . . . .
She will neither rock nor totter, When she comes . . . .
She will run so level and steady, When she comes . . . .
She will take us to the portals, When she comes . . . .

The song eventually began to change in the early 1900’s into a children’s song, distorting it’s original meaning. It’s interesting how time changes the meaning of things, especially in a time when word of mouth and folk stories were so vital. However, even these may not even be the original meanings to this old, cryptic tune.

Bobby Solomon

January 24, 2012 / By

Google+