top of page

The Water is Wide

The Water is Wide is arguably one of the most popular folk songs known today. Though the author of this text is unknown, the history of this ballad dates back to Scotland in the early 1700s, where it was first known as "O Waly, Waly". The song has been made popular in many countries throughout the world, most notably 18th century England, early 19th century North America; and having caught the attention of Austrian-French composer and piano builder Ignaz Joseph Pleyel (1757-1831).


The text describes two lovers who long to be with each other, but are separated by an obstacle, in this case, the "wide water". It is up to the interpretation of the performer whether this "wide water" is a river, and they are able to sing to each other from across the way; or if they are an ocean apart and are sharing their love for each other in handwritten letters. No matter the interpretation, the performers should take great care in the phrase building, text stress, and be sure that the longer notes generate energy. The oboe was added as a secondary voice to complement the singers as if the oboe is the distant love the performers are yearning for.


Commissioned by the Northwest District of the Missouri Choral Directors Association 7th & 8th Grade Honor Choir

Jazz Rucker, director

Duration: 3:05


Voicing: SAB accompanied with Oboe


Publisher: Self-Published

bottom of page