Wade In The Water

Concert Band

Wade In The Water

Gospel Rock for Band

Concert Piece, Pop, Rock, Spiritual / Gospel
Grade Level:
Performance time:
Full Score + Parts
Order Number:
Release Date:


"Wade in the Water" (Roud 5439) is the name of a Negro spiritual first published in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901) by John Wesley Work II and his brother, Frederick J. Work (see Fisk Jubilee Singers).

The main chorus is:
Wade in the water.
Wade in the water, children.
Wade in the water.
God's gonna trouble the water.

The song relates to both the Old and New Testaments. The verses reflect the Israelites escape out of Egypt as found in Exodus:14. The chorus refers to healing: see John 5:4, "For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had."

Many internet sources and popular books claim that songs such as "Wade in the Water" contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture and the route to take to successfully make their way to freedom. This particular song allegedly recommends leaving dry land and taking to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one's trail.

"Wade in the Water" was a popular instrumental hit in 1966 for the Ramsey Lewis Trio, which prompted further instrumental recordings by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and Billy Preston (both 1967). The melody was used for the 1988 Tony Toni Tone hit "Little Walter".

Serie Sound Classics No. 31

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