Wade in the Water: A Negro Spiritual
Wade in the Water is a Negro Spiritual made by John Wesley Work II together with his brother, Frederick J. Work. The hymn was published in New Jubilee Songs and was sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1901. Wade in the water is also connected with the underground railroad songs.
This Negro spiritual relates to the Old and New testaments. The verses depict how the Israelites escape from Egypt as read in Exodus 14. The hymn’s chorus refers to the healing process. "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." — John 5:4.
A wide variety of internet sources as well as books state that hymns like “Wade in the Water” has explicit detail of instructions to slaves in terms of capture avoidance as well as what path these slaves should take to make their way to freedom successfully.
"Wade in the Water" was also featured in 1960 signature ballet, Revelations. There is one version of the hymn that was performed by The Staple Singers, and became a part of the human rights movement in the United States. The hymn was such a famous instrumental hit for the Ramsey Lewis trio in the year 1966, which eventually led to more instrumental recordings.
An American documentary, Wade in the Water, was made in 2008. Produced and directed by Elizabeth Wood and Gabriel Nussbaum.