Home > Book, General Knowledge > 255/365 – Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

255/365 – Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep is an English nursery rhyme, sung to a variant of the 1761 French melody Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman. The original form of the tune is used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the “Alphabet song”.

The words have changed little in two and a half centuries. It has been suggested that the rhyme is a complaint against medieval English taxes on wool and in the twentieth century it was a subject of controversies in debates about “political correctness”. The Roud Folk Song Index, classifies this tune and its variations as number 4439.

Modern version

Recent versions tend to take the following form:

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir,

Three bags full;

One for the master,

And one for the dame,

And one for the little boy

Who lives down the lane.

Original version

This rhyme was first printed in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, the oldest surviving collection of English language nursery rhymes, published c. 1744 with the lyrics very similar to those still used today:

 Bah, Bah a black Sheep,

Have you any Wool?

Yes merry have I,

Three Bags full,

One for my master,

One for my Dame,

One for the little Boy

That lives down the lane.

In the next surviving printing, in Mother Goose’s Melody (c. 1765), the rhyme remained the same, except the last lines, which were given as, “But none for the little boy who cries in the lane”.

The Roud Folk Song Index, which catalogues folk songs and their variations by number, classifies the song as 4439 and variations have been collected across Great Britain and North America.

Melody

The rhyme is usually sung to a variant of the 1761 French melody Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman, which is also used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and the “Alphabet song”.

The words and melody were first published together by A. H. Rosewig in (Illustrated National) Nursery Songs and Games, published in Philadelphia in 1879.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baa,_Baa,_Black_Sheep

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