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God Moves on the Water

"God Moves on the Water"
Single by Blind Willie Johnson
Format10-inch 78 rpm record
RecordedNew Orleans, Louisiana, December 11, 1929
LabelColumbia (14520-D)

God Moves on the Water is a gospel blues song recorded by Blind Willie Johnson in 1929 and released on a 78 rpm record by Columbia Records.[1]

The song describes the sinking of RMS Titanic and the consequent loss of life after it struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Its origins are obscure: topical songs are generally written soon after the event to which they relate. Johnson's lyrics call the ship's captain, E. J. Smith, A. G. Smith, which suggests an oral tradition. The fact that two of the earliest recordings, by Johnson in 1929 and by Mance Lipscomb in 1965, were made by Texans suggests an origin in that state.

The title may allude to the Book of Genesis at 1:2: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters". If it does, the song may derive from an earlier gospel song, now lost.


The following recordings are by notable musicians: