The water is wide

Music: Trad. arr. Sheena Phillips. Words: Trad. Anon
performance time approx 3m 00s
Range S: d' – d'' / A: b – b' / T: d – e' / B: G – c'
Price code: B
Complexity: **

See a perusal copy of the music.
Hear a synthesized rendering
One of the most famous folk songs collected by Cecil Sharp, expressing the experience of love in a series of metaphors from the natural world. Alliteration, repetition, irregular rhymes and stock phrases combine to express something poignant and powerful. In this arrangement, the tune (sung mostly by the sopranos) is echoed and accompanied by the other voice parts. Verses 1 and 5 can be sung by soloists, and 'ooh' can be substituted for 'ah' if the accompaniment needs to be quieter for balance.


The water is wide, I cannot get o'er,
And neither have I wings to fly.
Give me a boat that will carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

Oh, down in the meadows the other day,
A-gath'ring flowers, both fine and gay,
A-gath'ring flowers both red and blue,
I little thought what love can do.

I put my hand into one soft bush,
Thinking the sweetest flower to find.
I pricked my finger right to the bone,
And left the sweetest flower alone.

I leaned my back up against some oak,
Thinking that he was a trusty tree.
But first he bended and then he broke;
And so did my false love to me.

Oh love is handsome and love is fine,
And love's a jewel when it is new.
But when it is old, it groweth cold,
And fades away like morning dew.

Traditional English

This version of the words and tune was collected by Cecil Sharp. Two of the verses overlap considerably with a song of Scottish origin called 'O waly, waly'.

Purchase – 2022: The water is wide

Before you click the "buy" button, please enter the name of your group and select the appropriate size.
Name of group
Size of group
The price depends on the number of singers in your group. This is a single payment for a licence to make as many copies as you need for your group to rehearse and perform the song. You can also re-print - for instance, to replace copies that get lost or worn out.

Copies must not be given, lent, hired or sold to any other group.

Orders are normally despatched within 24 hours - not instantly, because each PDF file is created specially for the purchaser.

Canasg sales are processed via Paypal. Paypal lets you pay with a simple credit or debit card if you don't have a Paypal account. Your Paypal transaction will be in sterling and it will be converted automatically if your credit card draws on a different currency. Paypal passes none of your secure information to Canasg.

If you would like us to send an invoice before you pay, or if you would like your order priced in $US or Euros, then please e-mail your order to us instead of using the form above.

Canasg sells sheet music for choirs …

… in PDF format, delivered by e-mail, with a licence to print as many copies, and as often, as you like. The copies are for the exclusive use of one ensemble, and the licence doesn't let you give, lend, hire or sell them to anybody else. Please read the detail before you buy.

Copying permitted (terms and conditions apply!)

When you buy from us, you can make as many copies as you need of the music, and as often as you need - so you can replace lost or worn copies.

Free perusal copies

You can download a sample PDF from this site, and make a printed copy for your own use. It will be overprinted “sample”. It isn't licensed for rehearsal or performance.

Modest prices

We do not charge a price per copy. You pay according to the size of your group.

Keep in touch

You can bookmark this page to help you find it again. For new releases, seasonal suggestions, and other news, we invite you to opt in to our occasional mailing list. Opting out is easy, whenever you want to.

Keep me posted:

Email Marketing by VerticalResponse

"Liking" Canasg on Facebook is another way to get updates.

You can e-mail us via the link at the foot of this page. We're always interested in your suggestions and your experience with using this web site.

Canasg Choral Music Publishing Canasg Music
publishing refreshingly original choral music

16 Morningside Park,
Edinburgh EH10 5HB, Scotland
Contact us