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"Deep River"

Both the author and original date of "Deep River" are unknown, as is usually the case with slave songs. It was first published in a collection entitled Slave Songs of the United States (New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867). The compilers of this first publication of the African-American spiritual were three white Northerners who heard the songs in the South Carolina sea islands in 1862-63, where they had gone to work with recently freed African Americans. The challenge they faced was the very nature of black folk music: because the genre is shared orally, melodies are subject to change slightly with each oration, and as there was no written musical language with which to capture the nuances of a genre that was unfamiliar to the compilers, the process of writing them altered them as well.

Download Deep River Oral Moses.mp3 (Mp3 Audio) Duration: 2:40

Deep river, my home is over Jordan, Deep river,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground.

Oh, chillun, Oh, don't you want to go to that gospel feast,

That promised land, that land, where all is peace?

Walk into heaven, and take my seat,

And cast my crown at Jesus feet,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground.

Deep river, my home is over Jordan, Deep river

Lord, I want to cross over into campground,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground,

Lord, I want to cross over into campground, Lord!

Source | The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume B, ed. Paul Lauter (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006) 2869-2870.
Creator | Unknown
Composer | Unknown
Lyricist | Unknown
Item Type | Music/Song
Cite This document | Unknown, “"Deep River",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 10, 2023, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/851.

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