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Sweet Chariot

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Carlos Simon

Carlos Simon

General Info

Year: 2019
Duration: c. 6:15
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Spiritual
Publisher: Bill Holab Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass (optional)
Piano (optional)
Percussion (4 players), including:

  • Bell Tree
  • Crotales
  • Marimba
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot is perhaps one of the most well-known African American spirituals. As beautiful and rapturing as its melody is, it should be. However, its beauty and popularity is often overlooked by the song’s true meaning about death. I have taken fragments of the melody and combined it with the Gregorian chant from the Latin mass for the dead, In Paradisum. Its text is as follows: "May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once (a) poor (man), may you have eternal rest.”

- Program Note by composer

Composed in 2019, Sweet Chariot was commissioned by a consortium led by Robert Ambrose at Georgia state University. Simon, the son of a minister, wanted to use an African American spiritual a a melodic resource because there is so much depth and meaning ingrained in spirituals. He chose Swing Low, Sweet Chariot because of its beauty and familiarity. Combining the spiritual along with the Gregorian plainchant highlights the spiritual's meaning of an afterlife or something better in so many way. It also fosters conversation about the meanings of both the spiritual and the plainchant,which is an essential aspect of pedagogy.

- Program Note from Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12,


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Rodney Dorsey, conductor) – 1 November 2022
  • Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) Concert Band (Cory Near, conductor) - 27 February 2022
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette Symphonic Winds (Jason Missal, conductor) - 24 February 2022
  • The Whitworth University (Spokane, Wash.) Wind Symphony (Richard Strauch, conductor) - 20 November 2021
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Wind Ensemble (Lauren Visel, conductor) – 12 November 2021
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Symphony (Ryan Kelly, conductor) - 22 September 2021
  • Eastman Wind Orchestra (Rochester, N.Y.) (Mason St. Pierre, conductor) - 15 September 2021
  • Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Tonya Mitchell-Spradlin, conductor) - 29 April 2021
  • University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Robert Carnochan, conductor) - 22 November 2020
  • University of California Berkeley Wind Ensemble II (Matthew Sadowski, conductor) – 28 February 2020
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Band (Corey Pompey, conductor) – 18 February 2020
  • University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Wash.) (Gerard Morris, conductor) – 17 October 2019
  • State University of New York, Potsdam, Crane Wind Ensemble (Brian K. Doyle, conductor) – 20 September 2019 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Burch-Pesses, Michael. "Sweet Chariot." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 672-678. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • Carlos Simon website Accessed 15 September 2019
  • The Horizon Leans Forward…, compiled and edited by Erik Kar Jun Leung, GIA Publications, 2021, p. 475-476.