"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" is a popular English nursery rhyme and kids' song, which is sung to a variant of Ah! vous dirai-je, maman, a French melody. It is a traditional children's nursery rhyme and one of the most popular kids' songs and nursery rhymes of all time! Â
The earliest surviving version was published in 1731. Like other popular nursery rhymes, "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" song is also a single stanza in trochaic metre, thus making it easy for children and preschoolers to master it.
Origin of Baa Baa Black Sheep nursery rhyme
As with many nursery rhymes, there are various uncorroborated theories on the origin of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" song. Several efforts have been put to find out the meaning and origin of the rhyme, and most the theories have no corroborating evidence. Katherine Elwes Thomas in 'The Real Personages of Mother Goose' holds that it is a complaint against Medieval English taxes on wool. This theory is advanced to explain the medieval English "Old Custom" wool tax which was levied in the year 1275.
Others claim that the rhyme is about slave trade, which was particularly rampant in the southern United States. However, it has no supporting historical evidence.
Lyrics to Baa Baa Black Sheep
"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" is a single stanza rhyme, lyrics to which are as follows:
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.
Apart from above modern version, different variations have been discovered across North America and Great Britain.
Original version of the rhyme
Original version of "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" consists of:
Bah, Bah, a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry I Have,
Three Bags full,
Two for my Master,
One for my Dame,
None for the Little Boy
That cries in the lane.
"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" rhyme was first published in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, which consists of oldest surviving repertoire of English nursery rhymes, with the words very similar to those still used today.
In Mother Goose's Melody (c. 1765), the lyrics were same, only the last lines were changed, which were printed as, "But none for the little boy who cries in the lane".