Deep River (song)

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Sheet music for Henry T. Burleigh's influential 1917 arrangement of "Deep River"

"Deep River" is an anonymous spiritual of African-American origin.


The song was first mentioned in print in 1876, when it was published in the first edition of The Story of the Jubilee Singers: With Their Songs, by J. B. T. Marsh. By 1917, when Henry T. Burleigh completed the last of his several influential arrangements, the song had become very popular in recitals. It has been called "perhaps the best known and best-loved spiritual".[1]

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.[2] 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.

"Deep River" is one of the five spirituals included in the oratorio A Child of Our Time, first performed in 1944, by the classical composer Michael Tippett (1905–98).



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.


  1. ^ Wayne D. Shirley, "The Coming of 'Deep River'", American Music, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Winter 1997), pp. 493–534. Published by the University of Illinois Press.
  2. ^ "Show Boat (1929) - Soundtracks",IMDb.
  3. ^ "Album Reviews". Review of Spirituals by Adelaide Hall and Kenneth Cantril, Billboard, January 22, 1949. Retrieved December 28, 2014).

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