‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’ is one of the most famous Christmas songs in the English language, and unlike many Christmas carols we know who wrote this one: a Poet Laureate, no less. So next time you’re singing ‘while shepherds watched their flocks by night’ (or, depending on company, washed their socks by night), you can bask in the knowledge that you’re taking in a bit of literature.
But what were the origins of this favourite Christmas carol? ‘While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks’ deserves closer analysis…
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not!’ said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled mind;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind. Read the rest of this entry
What are the origins of Little Boy Blue?
‘Little Boy Blue’ is a popular children’s rhyme, but as is the case with so many nursery rhymes (as we’ve been discovering in the course of researching these posts), the meaning of ‘Little Boy Blue’ is far from apparent. What does this curious little nursery rhyme mean, or is it an example of that genre of perennial appeal, nonsense verse?
Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow,
The cow’s in the corn.
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He’s under a haystack,
Fast asleep. Read the rest of this entry
What are the origins of this nursery rhyme?
‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross’ is a famous nursery rhyme, and has been popular with children for several centuries. The nineteenth-century Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, used to sing ‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross’ to his children every day. But which ‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross’ are we talking about? For there’s more than one. The origins and history of this nursery rhyme require a bit of unearthing and analysis.
First, here’s the most familiar version of the rhyme:
Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.
But this isn’t the only version of ‘Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross’. There’s also this one: Read the rest of this entry