The Water is Wide: Senior Vocal Performance Major Lorenzo Butler Publishes Original Work with Imagine Music Publishing

Photo by Cheyenne Cole

Cheyenne Cole
Managing Editor

Cameron senior Lorenzo Butler’s rendition of the Scottish folk song “The Water is Wide” is available for purchase on

Imagine Music Publishing licensed and published Butler’s original composition this semester.

In an arrangement theory course, Butler’s professor tasked the class with arranging a choral piece.

Butler searched for a piece, stumbled upon “The Water is Wide” in a choral book and remembered the first time he heard his best friend sing it in high school.

“The song is very beautiful, and it really fit his voice well,” he said. “It was just stuck in my head for months – to see my friend open up as an artist because he was really shy.”

Butler knew in that moment that this was the piece he wanted to make his own.

“It’s a combination of: nothing is impossible, you just have to think outside the box, and different struggles of life, love and happiness — that spoke to me,” he said.

He found the lyrics of the first verse meaningful.

“The water is wide / I can’t cross over / But neither have I wings to fly / So I’ll build a boat that can carry to / And both shall row / My love and I.”

Butler said the soothing tune, although it originates from Scotland, serves as a reminder of his Irish heritage.

“The song has this comforting folklike melody, which you can pretty much sing anywhere,” he said.

A member of the CU Concert Choir, the CU Centennial Singers and the CU Percussion ensemble, Butler has always been involved in music in an academic setting.

As a child, he found music all around him; his mother sang to him, his father blared the radio and older siblings shared their own music.

“Music was already a part of me,” he said. “It was this habit that was already there that I don’t think I can ever escape from.”

But his own first music discovery was the rock band Coldplay.

“They influenced how I listened to music and how I treated dissonances or the clashy sounds that you hear in music,” he said. “Everything has this flow, and they know how to make you feel.”

Butler added piano, vocal harmonies and key changes to “The Water is Wide” and showed it to his compositional professor, Dr. Gregory Hoepfner, who encouraged him to submit it for publication.

Hoepfner said he was not surprised that Imagine Publishing picked up Butler’s piece.

“It’s quality, professional work. And it has a market,” he said. “There are always people looking for this kind of composition. It’s a well-written choral piece and based on a familiar tune that many people like.”

Hoepfner said this is an accomplishment that will take Butler far in the music profession.

“If nothing else,” he said. “I hope this gives him some validation for all the hard work that he has done these last few years. He is a very talented young man.”

Butler will debut “The Water is Wide” with the Centennial Singers at the annual choir concert at 7:30 p.m., April 26, in the University Theatre.


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