wayfarin stranger

I grew up in a family full of wayfarin strangers. Gnarled old men who I didn’t know but should have – because Pa said they were kin – sang the words with such strength of conviction that I always saw the story as their own.

A cousin even adopted it as his anthem when we were seven. When I questioned any right he had to claim the lyrics, he set me straight. “I’m an old soul,” he said. “Destined to walk this world alone.”

So far…he isn’t wrong.

Steve and I were talking about it a few weeks back. The song. Not the cousin. And I’ve been waiting to post it ever since. Now seems just as good a time as any. Have a read. Then hunt down Jack White’s rendition…and have a listen.

I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling thru 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

I know dark clouds will hang around me,
I know my way is rough and steep
Yet beauteous fields lie just before me
Where God’s redeemed their virgils keep

I’m going there to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home

I want to wear that crown of Glory,
when I get there to that bright land.
I want to shout down Satan’s story
in concert with the blood-washed band.

I’m going there to see my brothers;
they said they’d meet me when I come.
I’m only goin’ over Jordan.
I’m only goin’ over home.


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  • Matt
    Aug 16, 2007 at 12:45

    The Burl Ives rendition of the song was always my favorite..need an old soul with an old heart to really make that song come alive.

  • Bethany
    Aug 16, 2007 at 19:17

    Interesting blog, and thank you very much for your comments! I will post pictures of the DIY projects, so check back!

  • mojo shivers
    Aug 17, 2007 at 8:12

    I like it. The song’s very telling in a way.

  • steph
    Aug 17, 2007 at 13:51


  • amry
    Aug 16, 2007 at 17:46

    why are some religious songs so disturbing? no offense.

  • lorie
    Aug 16, 2007 at 17:49

    It’s that blood washed stuff.

  • Margie
    Aug 17, 2007 at 17:45

    I remember my Mother singing this when I was a kid, so it must be old. The mournful melody instantly came back to me when I read the words. Thank you for the memories! She grew up in the isolated Tennessee mountains around Knoxville. A lot of old folk songs began there and was passed down for generations. I wonder if this was one. Have you heard ‘The Knoxville Girl’, the tale of a local murder she used to sing?

  • euphrosyne1115
    Aug 19, 2007 at 20:55

    My favorite rendition is Emmylou Harris live. It’s on my “boo hoo 1” iPod playlist.

  • Christina
    Aug 20, 2007 at 5:50

    Wow. I have surfed to your blog several times, but never commented. But this was too random not to comment on….this was one of the songs that we sang in church this morning….I had part of it in my head a little while ago, and couldn’t remember the rest. Thanks for the help.

  • Alyssa Goodnight
    Aug 20, 2007 at 14:07

    I don’t think I’ve heard this song before–how funny that your cousin was so self-aware at seven.

    Thanks for visiting!

  • hattigrace
    Aug 21, 2007 at 1:46

    Love the song. Wish I knew the tune. I am comfortable with old souls. They have a special gift from God to skip the vanity of this world and relish the true riches.

  • hattigrace
    Aug 24, 2007 at 4:49

    Wish I could help you cry. I get real uncomfortable with me when I don’t cry for a long time. That’s why my last confession was so good for me. Tears like a river poured down my face. No sobs, just a river of broken heartedness, relief, joy. . . over the idea that God had showed up and loved me in spite of me. The sacrament of confession is powerful, cleansing, healing. That day, it was not so much about sin and shame as hurt and need.

    Your heart and emotional are safe with Him. He loves you deeply.

  • J
    Aug 24, 2007 at 14:25

    I’m cheating and commenting here, because comments are off on “Under Pressure”. 🙂

    I loved that post…so well written, so powerful. I grew up with the Bowie/Queen version, thankfully, and that song is in my head quite often as well. Though I am pretty good at crying. It can be quite cathartic to let it out, if you can learn how. Listen to the old-man-who- is-not-a-bum. (Ever read “Little Princess”? Little-girl-who-is-not-a-begger? Come to think of it, SHE had trouble crying, too. Stiff upper lip and all that.)

  • jim bosley
    Oct 11, 2008 at 2:20

    I have heard and known this song for at least 65 years. It was a standard in wv and played in my grandparents home.