Who Wrote the Deep and Wide Song?

There is a famous children’s song called Deep and Wide. You’re probably familiar with it. It goes…

Deep and wide, deep and wide. There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide (x2).

-Sidney Cox, early 20th Century

The song was written by Sidney Cox, a major in the Salvation Army. He wrote hundreds of songs, but this one is arguably his most well-known. According to Cox’s grandson, though the song is sung all over the world, Cox was saddened by the fact that the verses of the songs “had basically been lost to obscurity.” Below is a copy of the song as it first appeared in the Salvation Army’s publication War Cry. You can see all three verses in this document (source).

While Cox’s lyrics point to the fountain of life flowing from the wounds of Jesus, I also see the words reflecting the imagery of a lesser-known Old Testament text – that of Ezekiel 47. In that chapter, the prophet Ezekiel is having a vision. In the vision, he is being led around Jerusalem by a person (maybe an angel, a man of God, or possibly Jesus himself). The man shows Ezekiel a stream of water flowing from the base of the temple. The water flows out toward the Dead Sea. As Ezekiel and the man follow the path of the water, the water continually gets deeper and deeper, eventually bringing all sorts of life to places where there was no life. Here is some of that text….

He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh.Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.”

Ezekiel 47:6-9, New International Version

“So where the river flows, everything will live.” -Ezekiel 47:9

One of my daughters is almost two. Deep and Wide is her favorite song to sing right now. There is something about that song, both in the tune as well as in the lyrics, that provides fun and simplicity for a two-year old. She often sings it as part of a larger medley with other children’s songs.

I love the fact that her heart, soul, and mind are filled with such powerful words. These are words that remind us that the love of Jesus is far deeper and wider than any of us can imagine (Ephesians 3:17b-18). And where his fountain flows, everything will live. I want to raise my children to always thirst for that fountain (and chase after that fountain in everything I do in life as well).

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” -Ephesians 3:17b-18

Here is my daughter singing Deep and Wide (among other tunes) by the windowsill…

We caught our daughter belting out Deep and Wide in the breakfast nook!

I also found a beautifully crafted modern take on Deep and Wide, using lyrics from another hymn and blending those with the chorus from Deep and Wide. This comes from Daniel Bashta….

Deep and Wide, Harvest, by Daniel Bashta 2018

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Dr. Jesse Joyner travels nationwide as a speaker and entertainer. His primary role is that of a performing juggler spreading joy and the love of learning to family and kids events. H earned his PhD in Educational Studies at Trinity International University (Deerfield, IL). He enjoys playing the piano, bird watching, and old houses. He lives in Richmond, VA with his wife, Sarah, and their three kids - the perfect number for juggling children.

1 thought on “Who Wrote the Deep and Wide Song?”

  1. Thanks for this. One of my favorites as a kid. As an adult, in addition to the spiritual – a good epistemological goal. Be wide and deep in understanding.

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