Deep River (song)

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Sheet Music for a 1917 arrangement of "Deep River"

"Deep River" is an anonymous spiritual of African American origin. It has been sung in several films, including the 1929 film version of Show Boat, and by Chevy Chase in the 1983 blockbuster hit National Lampoon's Vacation.[1] The melody was also adapted into the popular song "Dear Old Southland", in 1921.

Actor and singer Paul Robeson performed "Deep River" accompanied by a large male chorus in the 1940 movie The Proud Valley.

At least one commentator has suggested that the song is intended to offer advice to slaves who want to run away, i.e., you should escape via a "river" to your "home…over Jordan" because the water will wash away your scent.


  • Adelaide Hall and Kenneth Cantril recorded a version of "Deep River" for their boxed set of Spirituals released in 1949 on London Records.[2]
  • Deep River Boys Featuring Harry Douglas with Pete Brown's Orchestra (recorded in Oslo on August 23, 1956, and released on the 78 rpm record HMV AL 6039).
  • The Roger Wagner Chorale recorded Roger Wagner's arrangement, first released on the album The Negro Spiritual for Capitol Records (SP 8600) in 1964.
  • Barbra Streisand 27th studio album, Higher Ground, recorded (USA) November 11, 1997, on Columbia Label.


Deep River,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep River, 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.

Oh, don't you want to go,
To the Gospel feast;
That Promised Land,
Where all is peace?

Oh, deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.


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