People want “Swing Low” to keep swinging…

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Mark Lehain
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Last week it was announced that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) is going to carry out a review into the appropriateness of fans singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at matches. Suddenly, something that the vast majority of people considered to be uncontroversial was now being labelled as potentially problematic.

It didn’t take long for people to share their views on the issue. The Prime Minister came out against it being discouraged, and Prince Harry let it be known that he was supportive of the review. Now the RFU Chief Executive has said he doesn’t sing it any more but wouldn’t judge those who do.

We carried out an online poll asking “Should singing ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ be banned?” – and here is what people said said:

A stonking 97% were against a ban – only 3% supported one. It would be a brave RFU that decided to discourage fans from singing it at matches. That said, there’s probably no harm in sharing more widely the historical origins and context of the song. Or maybe that’s just the eternal teacher in me – I love learning stuff like this, and think others probably do too.

In the meantime, in case you want to ponder this issue some more, here’s a brilliant piece by Calvin Robinson arguing against any clampdown on Sweet Low, but with an interesting twist on the debate: ” ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ is now as much a part of British culture as any other.”

Mark Lehain


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