“Deep River” is an African-American spiritual that, like many other songs of its type, uses Biblical imagery to express the singer's longing for freedom.
In particular, the text recalls the Israelites' exodus from Egypt and their 40-year quest for the promised land across the Jordan River (an analogy for the Ohio River, which was a dividing line between slave states and free during America's pre-Civil War era):
“Deep river, my home is over Jordan / Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground. / Oh, don't you want to go to that gospel feast, / that promised land, where all is peace? / Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.”
In this arrangement, the tune is presented over a simple bass line in the first eight measures (“A” ), then embellished with a gently swinging accompaniment by piano through the repeat of “A”, bridge (“B”) and final “A” section. An improvisation-like piano solo follows, leading to recapitulation of the bridge and conclusion.
This video is a demo of the sheet music available from Con Spirito Music. Visit conspiritomusic.com.
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