In 1969, Johnny Cash recorded the album The Holy Land, which was inspired by his visit to Israel with his wife, June Carter Cash. It is comprised of on-site recordings Cash made using a portable tape recorder to describe his visits in the Biblical locations and combine storytelling with music. This includes the inspiring hymn “He Turned the Water Into Wine” that he wrote in the car on his way back to Tiberias.
Other Johnny Cash gospel songs included in the concept project were “The Ten Commandments,” “Daddy Sang Bass,” and “Come to the Wailing Wall.”
Meaning Behind The Song
During a presentation at the San Quentin prison, Johnny Cash explained to the crowd that the music and words of “He Turned the Water Into Wine” were written after their visit to the little town of Canaan just over the hills from Nazareth. There, a small church sits over the cistern – where Jesus first performed a miracle.
The said miracle was chronicled in John 2: 1 – 11, where Jesus and his disciples were invited to a wedding banquet when Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no wine.” While Jesus resisted doing anything at first, he followed the wishes of his mother, who knew the bridegroom’s predicament. Jesus then miraculously turned six stone water jars, each holding twenty or thirty gallons of water, into wine.
When Cash saw the cisterns and heard the water’s sounds and how it echoes in there, he was so impressed and inspired. So, Cash wrote the song in a car, within just a few minutes, on his way to Tiberias.
“In the little Canaan town the word went all around that He turned the water into wine,” the song goes.
Tune in and play the video below to listen to “He Turned the Water Into Wine” by Johnny Cash.