Definitions

coming round

She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

"She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain", also sometimes called simply "Coming 'Round the Mountain", is an American folk song often categorized as children's music. An alternate title and pronunciation is She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain.

Although the first printed version of the song appeared in Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag in 1927, the song is believed to have been written during the late 1800s. The song was based on an old Negro spiritual titled "When the Chariot Comes", which is sung to the same melody. During the 19th century it spread through Appalachia where the lyrics were changed into their current form. The song was later sung by railroad work gangs in the Midwestern United States in the 1890s. The song's style is reminiscent of the call and response structure of many folk songs of the time, where one person would shout the first line and others repeat.

Lyrics

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes). She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (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. (when she comes).

The same structure is repeated with the following verses:

She'll be drivin' six white horses when she comes, etc.

Oh we'll all come out to meet her when she comes, etc.

We will kill the old red rooster when she comes, etc.

We'll be havin' chicken and dumplings when she comes, etc.

We'll all be shoutin' "Halleluja" when she comes, etc.

Contrast this to the original lyrics of "When the Chariot Comes":

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 . . . .

Interpretation

While it is not entirely clear who the "she" in the song refers to, there are various plausible interpretations. One interpretation suggests that "she" is the train that will be coming through the tracks that are being laid out by workers.

Carl Sandburg, in The American Songbag, suggests that "she" refers to union organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones going to promote formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps.

Currently the song is usually sung in collections of children's music with slightly different lyrics. The song has been recorded by musicians ranging from Pete Seeger to 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

At least three soccer chants are sung to the tune of this song:

  • English fans chant "Ten German Bombers" when their team is playing Germany.
  • U.S. soccer fans often sing the following refrain when their team is playing a European one:

If it wasn't for the Yanks you'd all be Germans,
If it wasn't for the Yanks you'd all be Germans,
If it wasn't for the Yanks, if it wasn't for the Yanks,
If it wasn't for the Yanks you'd all be Germans!

Well, I'll shoot her with my ray gun when she comes,
Yes, I'll shoot her with my ray gun when she comes,
Yes, I'll shoot her with ray gun, oh, I'll shoot her with my ray gun
Oh, I'll shoot her with my ray gun when she comes
When she comes!
I'll be blasting all the humans in the world,
I'll be blasting all the humans in the world,
I'll be blasting all the humans, I'll be blasting all the humans,
I'll be blasting all the humans in the world,
In the world!
(spoken) ONE MORE TIME!!

Sources

Sandburg, C., The American Songbag. 1st Ed. Harcourt Brace, NY, 1927.

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