Civil War Lyrics Wade in the Water  | Civil War Music

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Wade in the Water

As performed by Beverly McLean

The Community Music Project: The Innocence to Cry

A popular slave spiritual even before the Civil War, “Wade in the Water” was not formally published until 1901.   Its lyrics contain coded instructions to fugitive slaves about how to avoid being re-captured.  It suggests walking in a stream bed in order to foil pursuing bloodhounds.  The song is widely associated with the Underground Railroad.


The song also relates to the Bible.  It verses reflect the Israelites escape from Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus.  The chorus refers to healing (John 5:4 NIV), “From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters.  The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.”


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Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children,

Wade in the water

God's gonna trouble the water.


Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children,

Wade in the water

God's gonna trouble the water.


See that host all dressed in white

God's gonna trouble the water

The leader looks like an Israelite

God's gonna trouble the water.


Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children,

Wade in the water

God's gonna trouble the water.


See that band all dressed in red

God's gonna trouble the water

Looks like the band that Moses led

God's gonna trouble the water.


Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children,

Wade in the water

God's gonna trouble the water.


Look over yonder, what did I see?

God's gonna trouble the water

The Holy Ghost a-coming for me

God's gonna trouble the water.


Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children,

Wade in the water

God's gonna trouble the water


If you don't believe I've been redeemed

God's gonna trouble the water

Just follow me down to the Jordan's stream

God's gonna trouble the water.


Wade in the water

Wade in the water, children,

Wade in the water

God's gonna trouble the water


*There are numerous variations and alternative verses.