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He's Got the Whole World in His Hands - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands' is an African-American spiritual that has become known the world over.  It was first published in 1927, but is likely to be older.  The author is unknown.  Recorded by Odetta, Mahalia Jackson and Laurie London, amongst others, it was made famous throughout the globe thanks (or possibly not) to a skiffle version released by Lonnie Donnegan.  Donnegan gave it a backbeat, and added some clapping, but arguably deprived the song of its soul.  I've set out the most popular lyrics below, but there are many alternative verses.  Some of my favourites include, "He's got the fishes of the sea in his hands," "He's got the back-slidin' sister in  his hands," and "He's got the crap-shooting man in his hands."  See this mudcat thread for more information about the song's origin.

My personal favourite version of 'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands' is by Nina Simone: 

The chords written out below will give you a rough approximation of what to play, but watch the attached YouTube video to see exactly how to play this arrangement.

Chords

Capo at 7th Fret


C  (walk down in the bass...)   Dm7 (with an F in the bass)
He's got the whole world                   in His hands,

Dm7 (walk down in the bass...)      G                      G7
He's got the whole wide world           in His hands,

C  (walk down in the bass...)   Dm7 (with an F in the bass)
He's got the whole world                   in His hands,

                      G                  G7      C
He's got the whole world in His hands.


See the YouTube video to see exactly how to play this arrangement.
It's a little different to most of the arrangements you may have heard before.

Lyrics

He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole wide world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got the little bits of babies in His hands,
He's got the little bits of babies in His hands,
He's got the little bits of babies in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got you and me brother in His hands,
He's got you and me sister in His hands,
He's got you and me brother in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got everybody here in His hands,
He's got everybody here in His hands,
He's got everybody here in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole wide world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs