Friday, July 22, 2022

Folk Song for February 2023: Wayfaring Stranger

Well-known as both a gospel song and a folk song, Wayfaring Stranger probably dates back to the early 1800’s, though the date and songwriter are unknown. It has been featured in at least two modern films: Cold Mountain, performed by Jack White, and the World War I drama 1917, where it was hauntingly sung a capella in a quiet forest by singer/actor Jos Slovik just before going into a deadly battle. 

You could while away many hours on YouTube listening to amazing versions from around the world which span several decades. 

But for children, we want a simple, straightforward, beautifully sung version that is faithful to the traditional notation. This a cappella version by Narrow Way is perfectly suited for our purpose.

Wayfaring Stranger

I am a poor, wayfaring stranger,

While traveling through this world of woe.

Yet there's no sickness, toil, nor danger

In that bright land to which I go.

I'm going there to see my Father,

I'm going there no more to roam.

I'm only going over Jordan,

I'm only going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather o'er me,

I know my way is rough and steep.

Yet beauteous fields lie just before me,

Where God's redeemed their vigils keep.

I'm going there to see my Mother,

She said she'd meet me when I go.

I'm only going over Jordan,

I'm only going over home.

I want to wear a crown of glory,

When I get home to that good land.

I want to shout Salvation's story,

In concert with the blood-washed band.

I'm going there to meet my Saviour,

To sing His praise forevermore.

I'm only going over Jordan,

I'm only going over home.

On my Youtube playlist, don’t miss Rhiannon Giddens’ utterly gorgeous version of Wayfaring Stranger, recorded in an ancient church in Ireland, or the two videos of Jack White. His studio version from the Cold Mountain soundtrack is haunting, but it’s his live performance (with three of the top bluegrass musicians of our day) that lays raw the bone deep world-weariness, tinged with hope in the gospel, that makes this song transcend time and place. Last but not least, don’t miss the video of it sung in the old traditional Sacred Harp style, with the solfa shape notes sung prior to the first verse. This is how I like to sing it best! There are many other versions there to enjoy as well.

Lynn's Youtube Playlist for AO Folk Songs 2022-2023

Our helpful intro post is sure to liven up your folk song adventures.

For more information on our folk songs, and for Amazon affiliate 
links to purchase individual songs, see our AO Folk Songs page.

These affiliate links help support AmblesideOnline.

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