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Origins: Carrion Crow (2)

01 Sep 07 - 12:15 PM (#2138405)
Subject: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: r.padgett

This song appears in DT as CC (2) which has the ling dong (ring dong) kiro me (may) etc chorus

This appears to be pretty widely known in Uk and US but where did the chorus come from and just how old is it?

Seems to be a popular childrens song too


01 Sep 07 - 12:40 PM (#2138411)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: George Seto -

Carrion Crow (2)

01 Sep 07 - 01:24 PM (#2138429)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Bee

Children's song? In what country? Given the subject matter, nonsense chorus aside, no one I know who works with children would consider Carrion Crow appropriate - too bloody.

01 Sep 07 - 02:40 PM (#2138465)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Nonsense, Bee.
The song is in editions of Mother Goose and other collections of nursery rhymes of England, and has been for two centuries.
See S. Baring-Gould, "A Book of Nursery Songs and Rhymes," XXVI, p. 39, among others.
Iona and Peter Opie, "The Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes," p. 186, includes The Carrion Crow.
The rhyme is known in New England and across America and Canada.

The chorus is found in old editions and a copy in the Bodleian Library (ca 1800-1820) has the chorus; whether it is found with the first known copies I don't know.

01 Sep 07 - 02:43 PM (#2138466)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: r.padgett

interesting thanks


01 Sep 07 - 02:58 PM (#2138480)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

An illustrated copy at the Bodleian has the chorus:
To my high ho, the carrion crow, sung croak, croak,
       croak, fol de rol &c.
Harding B 12(10), printed by J. Pitts (London), between 1802 and 1819.
Another copy at the Bodleian printed by Watts has a different chorus:
Caw, caw, the carrion crow,
Dig, dig, in the ground below.

The version in Opies, Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, has the better known chorus:
Sing heigh ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do.

01 Sep 07 - 04:02 PM (#2138516)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Bee

Q, maybe so, and I don't for a minute doubt you, but I can with reasonable assurance state that it has not been widely sung or read among the children, childcare workers (which I was for thirty years), or school teachers in Nova Scotia since at least the 1970s (and before, as I never saw it myself until I was a teen, and then only because I enjoyed folktales and songs). Nothing to do with what I personally think (I think modern children are overly sheltered from words), but what with the shooting of bird and pig, not to mention mourning piglets, it would just not be sung here with children, more's the pity.

Wife, oh wife, hand me my bow
That I might shoot yon carrion crow

The tailor shot and he missed his mark
He shot his own sow bang straight through the heart

Wife, oh wife, bring me brandy on a spoon
The old sow's fallen down in a swoon

Oh, said his wife, You're a silly old louse (goose)
You've killed the old sow and you don't care a mouse

Oh, said the tailor, I care not a mouse
We'll have black pudding, chitterlings, and souse

The old sow died and they threw her in a hole
The little pigs squealed for their mother's soul

01 Sep 07 - 04:36 PM (#2138543)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Bev and Jerry

Well, we sang it for children for over 20 years but only if they were about 11 years old or more. We did the Kangaroo Sat on an Oak version.

We always grossed them out when we explained what "carrion" is and why King Charles II was called "The Carrion Crow".

Bev and Jerry

01 Sep 07 - 05:06 PM (#2138557)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

The excellent "At School" website, used in UK schools, includes "The Carrion Crow" in its nursery songs. Click on 'Classroom Early Years' to find this section (Communication, Language, Literacy).

No, Nova Scotians can't be that wimpy! Mother Goose hasn't been outlawed for pre-schoolers and kindergartners, surely!

01 Sep 07 - 05:28 PM (#2138575)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

The earliest form of the rhyme was found by James Orchard Halliwell in his research for his classic "The Nursery Rhymes of England" (3rd ed. 1846).
He found it in the Sloane MS of 1487 (time if Charles I).

Hic, hoc, the carrion crow,
For I have shot something too low:
I have quite missed my mark,
And shot the poor sow to the heart;
Wife, bring treacle in a spoon,
Or else the poor sow's heart will down.

From Halliwell, J. O., 1859, "Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, A sequel to 'The Nursery Rhymes ..."
The version printed by Halliwell (four verses) in his "Nursery Rhymes ..."

Lyr. Add: The Carrion Crow
Halliwell, 1846, XCV.

A carrion crow sat on an oak,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
Watching a tailor shape his cloak;
Sing heigh ho, the carrion crow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do.

Wife, bring me my old bent bow,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
That I may shoot yon carrion crow;
Sing heigh ho, etc.

The tailor he shot and missed his mark,
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
And shot his own sow quite through the heart,
Sing heigh ho, etc.

Wife, bring brandy in a spoon;
Fol de riddle, lol de riddle, hi ding do,
For our old sow is in a swoon,
Sing heigh ho, etc.

(If the sow is shot through the heart, then the brandy must be for the tailor, don't you think?

01 Sep 07 - 05:46 PM (#2138581)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Another Mother Goose rhyme, perhaps inspired by "The Carrion Crow"


Bent his bow,
Shot at a pigeon,
And killed a crow.

Blanche Fisher Wright, 1916, "The Real Mother Goose." Still in print, Cartwheel Books (Scholastic). Also contains "The Carrion Crow." Grade: Pre-kindergarten.

01 Sep 07 - 06:33 PM (#2138602)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Bee

Not outlawed, Q, to be sure, but parents are extremely sensitive about what their kids are presented with by childcare workers and school teachers, and there are multitudes of modern materials available for children. Been there, have the mental bruises.

01 Sep 07 - 07:17 PM (#2138611)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: GUEST,Texas Guest

Bee - Carrion Crow IS a children's song. I have been singing it for
several years and get requests for it from both children AND adults

There is a note on my CD to the effect that I discovered this song in a fourth-grade elementary music class where it is part of the Texas elementary music cirriculum - across the state, I believe - where it is classified as a folksong from, guessed it - Nova Scotia. There is also mention of the time I started the song in an Irish pub and a young girl jumped up and cried, "Daddy, I know that song." Later she told me she was in the, "fourth grade."

I'm not going to pretend to know, but I've read that the song goes back to England, and I've read that the song goes back to Scotland; either way, both accounts stated that it was written as a political comment on the spat between one of the English kings (I think Charles II) and the Quakers or some other religious group that was at odds with the Church of England at the time.

As for me, I will continue to sing the song with the following
chorus which comes from the Texas elementary songbook:

Kye me leemo / kye my keemo / kye me leemo / kye mo
To me bump, bump, bump jump polly wolly lee
Lin-come killy-come kye mo

There is a long history of gruesome and gore in childrens songs and I, personally, don't find this song to be offensive in the least.
At any rate, if I haven't cleared anything up, well, maybe I've stirred the pot a bit. Either way, I'll be singing it in Jackson, Mississippi next week on the children's stage at the Mississippi Celtic Festival. See you there? Cheers.

01 Sep 07 - 08:40 PM (#2138645)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Texas guest, I agree.
Children like their gore. One of the first things I remember from childhood is the rhyme about bloody greasy grimy gopher guts, and there I was without a spoon or a straw! First grade or before. Heard throughout the West, and I'm sure elsewhere.

Children, especially in the Prairie provinces, hear it from their grandparents, who were given a reward for every gopher tail they brought in (Richardson's ground squirrel, once a plague on prairie farms).
I still hear it from kids- and parents pretend to be grossed out- and the child will add another verse, provoking more laughter.

Apparently all of the tales about the Carrion Crow's bearing on King Charles I or II are myth, but that doesn't kill a good story- nor should it.

"Modern Materials"- so much gloopy politically correct pap is entering the curriculum. History is a lost cause in schools pre-university because of it.

No wonder children look for the goriest computer games they can find.

01 Sep 07 - 08:41 PM (#2138647)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Malcolm Douglas

No evidence of any allegorical subtext beyond the typical romantic fantasies of Victorian antiquarians, whose spiritual heirs are alive and well and writing sleevenotes for folksong records; all too often without having noticed that scholarship has moved on since the 19th century. As Halliwell pointed out more than 160 years ago, the song predates Charles II in any case. See The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes for further information.

I am frankly astonished that trained educators might consider this song to be meat too strong for children who are (presumably) allowed by their parents to watch television and eat animal protein. With luck the adults will grow up eventually.

Now, back to that chorus. Did you mean that specific form of words (and others like it), Ray? I'd guess the version quoted in the DT to be an American one, though sadly whoever put it there didn't bother to say where they got it.

01 Sep 07 - 09:56 PM (#2138678)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Belden has a version, obtained in 1906 from a correspondent, Christian Co., Missouri. An old man rather than a tailor.

Tim-a-linny-danny, finny-dandy, kimo
Kimonaro nelton karo kimo
A-hum-a jum a-fum-a-ju, a fike-ta-ma ling-dum
Dilly-lally-lingdum, kimo.

"The Carrion Crow," pp. 270-271, "Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society," H. M. Belden.

A version called the "Kangaroo" comes from Nova Scotia, collected by Creighton, reproduced inAlan Lomax, "Folk Songs of North America," no. 72, with score.
Kiddy kum keero,
Ba-ba-ba-ba billy-illy-inkum,

These involved choruses seem to be North American. Possibly influenced by the minstrel song Kemo Kimo."

01 Sep 07 - 10:35 PM (#2138687)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

A somewhat different version from Gainesville, Florida; singing of Mrs. Irene Harmon. Many Scotch-Irish settled there. Many songs sung while boiling cane juice during winter evenings.

Florida Scotch-Irish

One day sittin' down a-cuttin' out a coat,
Down came a crow, and he lit in the oak.
Up jumped Billy with a torn down billy
With a rink-shank-phil-a-delo-ki-me-o.

We shot the old sow right slam to the heart,
"Wife, oh wife, let's drag her to the house."
"She'll make us plenty of puddin' and souse."
With a rink-shank-phil-a-delo-ki-me-o.

"The bread and meat's all on the shelf.
Now if you want any more song
You can sing it yourself."
With a rink-shank-phil-a-dele-ki-me-o.

Alton C. Morris, 1950, "Folksongs of Florida," p. 393-394. University of Florida Press, 1990 reprint.

02 Sep 07 - 06:57 AM (#2138784)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: r.padgett

Yes Malcolm and others who have kindly submitted their extensive World (ly) knowledge on this specific song and their opinions as to the origins (all much appreciated)

As I said it is the inclusion of the ling dong (ring dong) kiro me chorus which is the subject of the query CC2 in DT

Looks as Malcom says, whoever put this to the basic (existing?) song looks as though never noted down where it came from and whether it had an existing similar chorus which was corrupted, or just pinched from another song!

Anybody know any better?


02 Sep 07 - 11:39 AM (#2138889)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Mary Humphreys

Cecil Sharp noted in the first decade of the 20th century a version from Sister Emma ( an Anglican nun ) living in Clewer , Berkshire and responsible for running a children's home for waifs and strays of the locality. I reckon she came from the North East of England because she had many NE songs in her repertoire eg Dance to thee Daddy. Many of her songs were sung to the children in her care. Her version only has a simple refrain "Fol de rol de rol de ray".
As far as it being considered unsuitable material for children, I can name two children locally from different families who have learnt the song from a recording I made some years ago and consider it good fun to sing. Their parents are trained teachers and quite non-violent. The song has not turned their children into rampaging monsters yet....

02 Sep 07 - 10:32 PM (#2139335)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: Goose Gander

That was I, without my cookie.

03 Sep 07 - 01:10 PM (#2139773)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: George Seto -

Bee, you stated in your msg that the song hadn't been sung in the Nova Scotia School system for many years, well, maybe not in that form. Q mentioined that the Creighton collection has it as "The Kangaroo". That's the version which is taught in most schools even now from the Music Teachers I know in Halifax Municipality

03 Sep 07 - 03:06 PM (#2139873)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: nutty

I learned a version of this song when I was in primary school in North Yorkshire and have never since found it in print. The verses are standard but the tune and chorus is very different to any other version that I have heard or seen.

I remember it went like this....

A carrion crow sat on an oak
Derry, derry, derry, down O
A carrion crow sat on an oak
Watching a tailor shape his cloak
Hey ho for the carrion crow
Derry, derry, derry, down O

02 Sep 10 - 09:53 PM (#2978956)
Subject: RE: Origins: Carrion Crow (2)
From: GUEST,Random NS Teen

I'm from Nova Scotia and I sung this both in my school choir (for competition) and in a group music class (outside the school system) in grade four (2002-2003). So did another school in the competition we were in. Most kids here would recognize it.

I don't care if this thread is three years old, that needed to be cleared up since it is an NS folk song. :3 We sang this version: