"Dey passed away in Egypt, de swingin chariots; de generations passed away."

And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50.22-26)

The Exodus
Public DomainThe Exodus - Credit: James Jacques Joseph Tissot

This passage struck a deep cord in black congregations as it relates to the Israelites' emancipation from slavery and exodus from Egypt. For many African Americans, the adoption of Christianity signified an acceptance of America as ‘home’, but large numbers still retained a yearning for freedom in their ancestral land. This, it was believed, would be accorded to them in the afterlife if not in the temporal one.


Reverend Shegog's words also echo the African American spritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Listen to a 1921 recording by The Southern Four: