Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

One Wide River to Cross (aka One More River), an Illustrated Song

Posted on: January 11, 2016

This song  is called ONE WIDE RIVER and also goes by ONE MORE RIVER and it has been given at least 4 excellent illustrations, with beautiful and creative interpretations.  The words vary, as with all old folk songs and spirituals.

I have chosen to sing the song with the ONE WIDE RIVER classic 1966 woodcut illustrations by Ed Emberley and lyrics adapted by Barbara Emberley.  I did, however, decide to sing the words “One more river,” instead of “One wide river,” since the latter is much more difficult to say quickly than the former.

Any of these illustrations would be wonderful choices to share with a group of kids (or just sitting together with your favorite child at home).

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one wide river barbara emberley
One Wide River to Cross
Traditional Words and Tune
Adapted by Barbara Emberley
Illustrated by Ed Emberley

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This link from American Modern Books has images of many two page spreads from the Emberley’s ONE WIDE RIVER TO CROSS:
http://www.ammobooks.com/products/onewiderivertocross

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Book Trailer for Emberley illustration:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nASF_FTvX2Y

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ONE WIDE RIVER
Traditional Words and Tune Adapted by Barbara Emberley

Old Noah built himself an ark
One wide river to cross
He built it out of hickory bark
One wide river to cross
The animals came in one by one
One wide river to cross
And Japheth played the big brass drum
One wide river to cross

One wide river
And that’s the river of Jordan
One wide river
There’s one wide river to cross

The animals came in two by two
One wide river to cross
The alligator lost his shoe
One wide river to cross
The animals came in three by three
One wide river to cross
The ostrich and the chickadee
One wide river to cross

One wide river
And that’s the river of Jordan
One wide river
There’s one wide river to cross

The animals came in four by four
One wide river to cross
The hippopotamus blocked the door
One wide river to cross
The animals came in five by five
One wide river to cross
The yak in slippers did arrive
One wide river to cross

One wide river
And that’s the river of Jordan
One wide river
There’s one wide river to cross

The animals came in six by six
One wide river to cross
The elephants were doing tricks
One wide river to cross
The animals came in seven by seven
One wide river to cross
A drop of rain dropped out of heaven
One wide river to cross

One wide river
And that’s the river of Jordan
One wide river
There’s one wide river to cross

The animals came in eight by eight
One wide river to cross
Some came in by roller skate
One wide river to cross
The animals came in nine by nine
One wide river to cross
The cats and kittens kept in line
One wide river to cross

The animals came ten by ten
One wide river to cross
Let’s go back and start again
One wide river to cross

One wide river
And that’s the river of Jordan
One wide river
There’s one wide river to cross

One wide river
And that’s the river of Jordan
One wide river
There’s one wide river to cross

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As with many folk songs, the melody for this song varies from place to place.  
Posted here are a couple to explore.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2u-uwx1U8E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3eUKGkJUuU

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My favorite recording for melody line is by Bill Staines.  ONE MORE RIVER TO CROSS is track 9 on Bill Staines’ eponymous album ONE MORE RIVER
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000S5EBH0?ie=UTF8&qid=&ref_=tmm_msc_swatch_0&sr=

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Bill Staines’ website offers a version of the lyrics of this traditional old song:
http://www.acousticmusic.com/staines/onemorer.htm

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Other Illustrations of this song:

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one more river blumen
One More River
Traditional Words and Tune
Adapted by Karen L. Blumen
Illustrated by John J. Blumen

This illustration of ONE MORE RIVER (Illustrated by John J. Blumen, with words adapted by Karen L. Blumen) is created with a lot of fun and humor.  You’ll see animals with lots of luggage, bees with umbrellas, and a two kangaroos carrying pharaoh crocodile board the ark on a litter. I love that Noah is a person of color in this book.  People of color or vastly under-represented in picture books.

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One More River (A Noah’s Ark Counting Song)
Traditional Words and Music
Words Adapted by Joan Paley
Illustrated by Joan Paley

This ONE MORE RIVER is illustrated and adapted by Joan Paley with collage art. The art with deep color and clean lines and big shapes focuses on the animals climbing aboard.

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one more river wallis
One More River
Traditional Words and Tune
Adapted by Diz Wallis
Illustrated by Diz Wallis

Diz Wallis has painted beautiful detailed pictures for this song and she includes a marvelous variety of wildlife. You’ll see gorgeous peacocks, lions, tigers, beetles and butterflies all in rich, naturalistic detail and color on the large pages.

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Gathering Notes to Explore:

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ONE MORE RIVER is included as a song in this lesson plan about African American Spirituals:
http://www.coreknowledge.org/mimik/mimik_uploads/lesson_plans/548/The%20African%20American%20Spiritual.pdf

 

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Working to Understand the Lyrics

The lyrics about the animals marching onto the ark makes all the sense in the world.  But I’m having trouble understanding what the chorus means, about crossing the River of Jordan.

A friend of mine wrote, “the Jordan River is the river the Israelites crossed to get into the promised land. This part comes after the Noah part.”  My friend also guessed that the song might be a mash up of two different songs, one about Noah’s Ark and one about the Isreaelites crossing the River Jordan.

So then I surmised that the song is saying that humanity (Noah’s family) has to survive the flood then repopulate the earth (Noah’s 3 son’s Ham, Shem, and Japheth all had their wives with them on the ark).  Among those peoples the Israelites will arise (having been suppressed by other peoples who arose also) and in order for the Israelites to reach the promised land, they have to cross the Jordan River, both literally and figuratively.  If the Iseraelites wish to walk into the promised land of Israel, they’ve got to cross the Jordan River.  And figuratively, as another friend suggested, since River Jordan is often used as a symbol of death that believers must cross in order to reach the land of Milk and Honey in Heaven.

In other words, the Israelites have to survive the flood then cross the river of Jordan to finally reach the promised land.

A simpler understanding might be that the waters on which Noah’s Ark sailed were the result of massive flooding of the Jordan River.  So, while riding the waters, Noah is literally crossing the wide, wide flooded River of Jordan throughout the entire harrowing adventure.

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THAT’S THE RIVER OF THE RIVER OF JORDAN

The song’s lyric which mentions, “the river of Jordan” helps to qualify it as a geography song.  You can show a map of the Jordan River, talk about the countries and seas it flows through, where it begins, where it ends and those countries’ location on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea.

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The Jordan River in New World Encyclopedia online:
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Jordan_River

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Some Notes on the River Jordan

 

The River Jordan begins at the boarder of Lebanon and Syria where two smaller rivers meet. It eventually empties into the Dead Sea.

The River Jordan has a major significance in Judaism and Christianity as the site where the Israelites crossed into the Promised Land and where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist.

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Related Posts

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EMBERLEYS

Singable Picture Books by the Emberleys (Ed, Barbara, Rebecca)
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/singable-picture-books-by-the-emberleys/

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NOAH’S ARK

A List of Singable Picture Book Songs about Noah’s Journey with an Ark Full of Animals
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/noahs-ark-in-singable-picture-books/

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COUNTING

Counting (and math) in Singable Picture Books
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/counting-and-math-in-singable-picture-books/

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USEFUL TUNES IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/useful-tunes-in-the-public-domain/

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GEOGRAPHY SONGS IN SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/geography-songs-in-singable-picture-books/

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