Down to the River to Pray
Sheet Music

Down to the River to Pray, sheet music with a satisfying & pretty early intermediate piano arrangement!  Four arrangements:

  • Lead sheet in F
  • Lead sheet in G
  • Piano arrangement in F
  • Piano arrangement in G

Hear Alison Krauss sing this song:

Piano arrangements in 2 keys

* Listen to an audio of the piano arrangement *

Down to the River to Pray sheet music

The left hand is fairly predictable; though not simple enough for a beginner, it doesn't move around much.

Then, at the chorus, it changes to nice easy root position open chords.

The very first left hand notes are what I call a "baby" F chord; it may sound silly, but it makes perfect sense to my students!

Down to the River to Pray lyrics

When I introduce this music to students who have heard this song before, they say, "I LOVE this song!"

Inevitably, there may be a few differences in the version they are familiar with, and the arrangements I have made here.  That's the way it is with "traditional" music!  And I tell them, in many cases, that they can change up the music and play it the way they like best.  Not so with classical music; but with folk/traditional music, why not?

Not really a hymn

This is not a song most people would hear in their church... I do believe it is a spiritual, and that many people know it through the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"  I THINK.  Correct me if I'm wrong!

A fellow musician told me years ago that "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is an ICONIC movie that everyone should see - so my husband and I watched it - but honestly, the only thing I remember about that movie is this beautiful song "Down to the River."

Lead sheets in 2 keys

Down to the River hymn lead sheet
Down in the River song

My version follows Alison Krauss's melody

As near as I could, I followed the melodic line and rhythm heard in the lovely rendition in the video above.  If you have your singers learn and perform this song, be aware that the title "Down TO the River" isn't found in the lyrics; there, it is "Down IN the River."  Make sure everyone is on board!

Hear my arrangement again:

 * Listen to the piano arrangement again! *

The links for the piano arrangements:

Download Down to the River to Pray sheet music for piano, key of F

Download Down to the River for piano in the key of G

The links for the lead sheets:

Download lead sheet for Down to the River, key of F

Download Down in the River to Pray, lead sheet, key of G

Interested in songs from the Bible for your students or church?  Check out my other website,! clickable logo link

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About the Author

Dana Thynes

Hi, I'm Dana!  (Say that like "Anna".)  I'm the owner of, and a newer site,

Like some of you, I've been playing the piano since early childhood, and have added a few other instruments along the way, plus an interest in arranging and composing music.

You can find out more about me and the reason for this website at my About Me page.