Children in many parts of the world grow up chanting hundreds of jingles, verses, and rhymes which their great-great-grandparents chanted before them. For though the expression “nursery rhyme” was first used in 1824, such rhymes have existed for hundreds of years.
Nursery rhymes have a great variety of origins. Many of them have grown out of festivals, ceremonies, and rites used hundreds of years ago in Europe. Some have been made to explain the wonders of the world. Some repeat old chants for controlling rains, storms, droughts, and foods.
“London Bridge Is Falling Down” is said to date back to ancient days. Prayer rhymes, such as “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Bless the bed that I lie on,” repeat ancient rites.
Rhymes may come from games centuries old. “Knick Knack Paddy Whack, give a dog a bone” comes a game of knuckle-bones which started in Japan. It traveled to Rome and was carried to England and Europe by conquering Roman soldiers.
Rhymes sometimes come from street cries of peddlers who called out their service in rhymes. “Hot pease, hot, hot, hot” was such a street cry. Rhymed stories and songs were printed on long sheets of paper and sold for a penny. “Three Blind Vice” was printed in 1609 and sold in this way Some rhymes were 1earne‹l from traveling actors who gave plays in the streets. Schoolboy actors used the verse “Thirty days hath Septem- ber” as far back as 1602! About half of the 800 rhymes commonly used today are 200 or more years old.
What Is The Darkest Nursery Rhyme?
Ring Around the Rosie is the darkest nursery rhyme. The origin of this rhyme is by far the most infamous. The rhyme refers to the Great Plague of London in 1665.