The Wayfaring Stranger (song)

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"The Wayfaring Stranger" (aka "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" or "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger"), Roud 3339, is a well-known American folk and gospel song likely originating in the early 19th century[1] about a plaintive soul on the journey through life. As with most folk songs, many variations of the lyrics exist.

Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[2]


I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
There's no sickness, toil nor danger
In that fair land to which I go
I'm going there to see my father
I'm going there no more to roam
I'm just a-going over Jordan
I'm just a-going over home

I know dark clouds will hover o'er me
I know my path way is rough and steep
But golden fields lie out before me
Where weary eyes no more will weep
I'm going there to see my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come
I'm only going over Jordan
I'm only going over home

I'll soon be free, from every trial
This form shall rest beneath the sun
I'll drop the cross of self-denial
And enter in the home with God.

I'm going there to see my Saviour
I'm going home no more to roam
I'm just a-going over Jordan
I'm just a-going over home


In classical music[edit]

Ernő Dohnányi used the tune (along with two other traditional American folktunes) in his final composition American Rhapsody (1953).

George Crumb used the song twice in his composition Unto The Hills - American Songbook III (2002). The 8-song cycle opens and closes with arrangements of the song for singer, percussion quartet and amplified piano.

Appearance in media[edit]

Chart success[edit]

Preceded by
"True Love Ways"
by Mickey Gilley
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single (Emmylou Harris version)

August 23, 1980
Succeeded by
"Love the World Away"
by Kenny Rogers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Norman Cazden, Herbert Haufrecht, Norman Studer. Folk Songs of the Catskills. SUNY Press, 1982. 292-294. ISBN 0-87395-581-1
  2. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Emmylou Harris - Awards". Allmusic. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ "RPM Country Tracks for August 23, 1980". RPM. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Libera". 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Cold Mountain Soundtrack". Retrieved August 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ "How the west was won Soundtrack". Retrieved August 20, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]