Nursery Rhymes

Wade in the Water

Wade in the Water Lyrics

The words and lyrics of this African American Spiritual begin with "Wade in the water, children" as the first line of the song. The words, tune and lyrics of the "Wade in the Water" song were passed on verbally and the names of the author and composer are therefore unknown.

Wade in the Water Song Meaning and History
The history of the "Wade in the Water" song lyrics date back to the Slave Plantations during the 1800's. Meaning: The song was sung by slaves as a Biblical references to the story of Moses leading the Israelites from the bondage of Pharaoh. The line of the song "follow me down to the Jordan's stream" refers to a secret code word. The "River Jordan" referred to in the Bible was a secret code name for the Ohio River which was the dividing line between the slave states in the South and the non-slave states in the North and the goal of fugitive slaves. The title of the song, "Wade in the Water" was an instruction to runaway slaves to abandon the path and move into the water to avoid capture by throwing the dogs used by slave catchers off the scent. We have placed "Wade in the Water" in the category of African American Spirituals, aka Negro Spirituals and Slave Songs.

Wade in the Water Song
Title: Wade in the Water *** Name of Composer: Unknown *** Name Author / Writer of Lyrics: Unknown *** Category: Slave Songs aka African American Spirituals or Negro Spirituals

Wade in the Water Lyrics

Wade in the water
Wade in the water, children,
Wade in the water
God's a-going to trouble the water

See that host all dressed in white
God's a-going to trouble the water
The leader looks like the Israelite
God's a-going to trouble the water

See that band all dressed in red
God's a-going to trouble the water
Looks like the band that Moses led
God's a-going to trouble the water

Look over yonder, what do you see?
God's a-going to trouble the water
The Holy Ghost a-coming on me
God's a-going to trouble the water

If you don't believe I've been redeemed
God's a-going to trouble the water
Just follow me down to the Jordan's stream
God's a-going to trouble the water

Information about the Song
Title of Song: Wade in the Water
Author of Lyrics: Unknown
Nationality of Author: African American
Name of Music Composer: Unknown
Song Category: Slave Songs aka African American Spirituals or Negro Spirituals
First Line of Song: "Wade in the water, children"
First Publication Date: 1901. The lyrics of the song were first published in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

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