Crossing the Jordan River, for Christians, means going to heaven. When the children of Israel fled Egypt in search of the land God had promised them, they first had to cross the Jordan River. In the New Testament, Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Eventually, Christians began to use the Jordan as a metaphor for the crossing that would lead to the final “promised land,” or heaven.

In the old days, down here in Mississippi, folks would say of someone who had died that he or she had “crossed over,”meaning they had crossed the proverbial Jordan River to be with God. So, for many who were born in these parts, the word “crossing” had a spiritual connotation.

Since we’re talking of “olden times,” I am reminded of many songs that were sung during the folk-song era that had to do with this subject matter, one of which was “We are Crossing the Jordan River.” Joan Baez and Bob Gibson did a duet of it at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. I found a copy of the song on, and copied it thinking some might like to hear it again, or for the first time.

We Are Crossing The Jordan River – Click To Play


My parents tell me that in the past, many individuals went to churches that baptized members of their congregations in nearby rivers or ponds. I’m betting there are still some small churches that continue this practice today.

No matter your spiritual beliefs, it seems to me that believing that death is simply a transition, a crossing, if you will, to another place, universe (parallel or not), or form is as good a way to think about our endings as any other.


Author: gebbysmith

I am a retired school teacher, school administrator, designer, retail business- owner, writer, fisherman, gardener, music-lover, dance-lover, theater-lover who lives in Mississippi. My husband, four doggies, and I live on a small farm and have fun every day making things and working on our house..

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