There’s a lot of misinformation about this song, including a claim that this song was written by Obie Philpot, though he never copyrighted it. Obie sounds like a nice guy, and I believe he and his family truly believe he wrote it. But… the story goes that it was written while he was serving during World War II. Someone found it in his locker, and when he got back to the states it had been published.
This just can’t be completely true. Maybe he rediscovered it, or wrote new verses, but the song has been in existence since 1927 at least, and most likely quite a bit before. It’s credited as a traditional African American Spiritual, and thought to have existed previous to the 1927 printed book. That book, by the way, is for sale on Amazon at the time of this writing for around $25. The table of contents clearly lists the song. The book is referenced throughout websites on the internet, but the one I’ll credit here is from The Mudcat Cafe: “The music (and words) were included in Edward Boatner, Spirituals Triumphant – Old and New, Revised and Enlarged (Nashville, Tennessee, 1927, no. 68.” If you click the link to read the article for yourself, be prepared to wait a while. The page is a very slow load.
Of interest, since it’s first known publishing is in 1927, it’s possible the song could be copyrighted. But unlikely. It’s credited as being Public Domain, which I tend to believe since most sources cite it as being in existence long before the published edition came out.
On a side note, this song was difficult to bring to completion. When I started, it seemed like a simple, fun but repetitive children’s song. It wound up taking 2 weeks to work up an arrangement that made me happy. Then when it was time to edit the video and audio together, my editing software, Corel VideoStudio X5, no longer worked. It’s been my favorite for years, but changes to Windows made it nonfunctional. After many hours trying to find an editor that worked, (preferably free!) I went with HitFilm 4 Express. My understanding of it is minimal, so the videos this time are lacking the transitions and titles usually included.
But… bottom line, the videos are done, the midi file is uploaded, and the sheet music is uploaded. I hope you enjoy!