In many Christian churches this morning, the first reading would have been from Second Kings, chapter two, where the prophet Elijah is taken by God while his assistant and successor Elisha (who had repeatedly refused to leave him) looks on. They are walking by the river Jordan when it happens.
And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.
That image of chariots of fire coming for Elijah inspired the widely-beloved spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” which is credited to Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman who is believed to have composed it sometime circa 1860. Continue reading Swing Low, Sweet Chariot