Wayfaring Stranger - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Wayfaring Stranger (also known as "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" or "I'm a Poor Wayfaring Stranger") has been notably recorded by Emmylou Harris, Burle Ives, Dusty Springfield, Eva Cassidy, Johhny Cash, Neil Young, Joan Baez, Ed Sheeran and others.  It is an American song that dates back at least as far as the early nineteenth century, but its origin is unknown.  It sounds to me like a potent grafting of African-American spiritual lyrics on to an Irish tune.  But that's just a guess.  What's for sure is that it's a powerful song with a religious message that speaks to the age-old themes of loss and reunion in the next world.

Chords

Capo at 3rd Fret


Verse

Am
I am a poor wayfaring stranger,

                          
Dm                                 Am
While traveling through this world of woe;

                         Am
Yet there's no sickness, toil or danger

            
Dm                     G            Am
in that bright world to which I go.




Chorus

Am            F                          C

I'm going there to see my father,

                  F         C                     E7
I'm going there     no more to roam;

                Am
I'm only going over Jordan,

                Dm     Em      Am
I'm only going over home.



Verse

Am
Though dark clouds will gather round me -

                   
Dm                        Am
I know my way is rough and steep -

                          Am
Yet beauteous fields lie just before me,

                      
Dm                     G        m
Where God's redeemed their vigils keep.




Chorus

Am            F                          C

I'm going there to see my mother,

                          F         C                     E7
She said she'd meet      me when I come;

                Am
I'm only going over Jordan,

                Dm     Em   Am
I'm only going over home.

 

Play this song with a capo at the third fret to strum along with the Emmy Lou Harris video, or move your capo up or down the fretboard to find a key that works for your voice

Lyrics

I am a poor wayfaring stranger,
While traveling through this world of woe;
Yet there's no sickness, toil or danger
in that bright world 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.

Though dark clouds will gather round 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 come;
I'm only going over Jordan,
I'm only going over home.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs