"He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" is a traditional American spiritual. It was first published in the paperbound hymnal Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New, in 1927. In 1933, it was collected by Frank Warner from the singing of Sue Thomas in North Carolina. It was also recorded by other collectors, including Robert Sonkin of the Library of Congress, who recorded it in Gee's Bend, Alabama, in 1941. That version is still available at the Library's American Folklife Center.
Frank Warner performed the song during the 1940s and 1950s, and introduced it to the American folk scene. Warner recorded it on the Elektra Album American Folk Songs and Ballads in 1952. It was quickly picked up by both American gospel singers and British skiffle and pop musicians.