Sing a Song of Sixpence a pocket full of rye
We take an in-depth look at the well-known English nursery rhyme "Sing a song of sixpence"
- Twelve pence in a Shilling and twenty Shillings in a Pound
- The history
- It was the Italians that did it
- Handbags and Gladrags
- We pay more than a sixpence
Twelve pence in a Shilling and twenty Shillings in a Pound
On the 15 February 1971 Britain changed to decimalisation before than our coinage was made up of pounds shillings and pence half a shilling was sixpence . In the well-known nursery rhyme called “Sing a Song of Sixpence” many children sing it whilst dancing in a ring or in a line and miming each part, the song itself is thought to date back to the 18th century and is listed in the “Roud folk song index this index is made up of a database of 300,000 references to over 21,600 songs not just from the UK but from all over the world
In 1602 the bards play Twelfth Night Sir Toby Belch a somewhat witty character with an equivocal mix of high spirits and low cunning, tells a clown
"Come on; there is sixpence for you: let's have a song"
This may well be the first reference to the well-known English nursery rhyme Sing a song of sixpence?
Sing a song of sixpence also pops up in 1614 in a Jacobean tragi-comedy written by the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher called Bonduca, the British Celtic queen who led a revolt against the Romans in 6061 AD. She was one of a kind even though her name appears in many forms, for example Boudica, Boudicca and Boadicea. In the play the line is closer to the song we all know.
Whoa, here's a stir now! Sing a song o' sixpence!"
The first printed verse appeared in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book This was a collection of nursery rhymes first published in London in 1744 there were some 40 nursery rhymes in the book including
- Ladybird Ladybird
- London Bridge is Falling Down
- Sing a Song of Sixpence
- Baa Baa Black Sheep
- Who did kill Cock Robin?
- Little Robin Redbreast
- Hickere, Dickere, Dock
- Mary, Mary, quite contrary
These were some of the original lines
Sing a Song of Sixpence,
A bag full of Rye,
Four and twenty Naughty Boys,
Baked in a Pye
Over time the rhyme changed from boys to birds and in 1784 a magpie makes it to the stage by attacking the unfortunate maid by pecking off her ill-fated nose.
It was the Italians that did it
Birds being baked in a pie were the amusement of the Italian gentry, in the 16th century, the birds were alive and when the pie was cut into out would fly all the birds much to the enjoyment of the assembled guest, An Italian cookbook from 1549 a recipe for such a pie.
Let’s look at the line “A pocket full of rye” this is very much a mystery, in the original version it’s a “Bag full of rye” and in my mind a bag full of rye was worth a sixpence and I think the rhyme might have started as
Sing a Song of Sixpence,
Or a bag full of Rye
There is no proof whatsoever of this I just think its plausible, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it, and I presume the boys were baked in the pie simply because they were naughty.
Handbags and Gladrags
And finally Rod Stewart in his song “Handbags and Gladrags” he sings
Sing a song of six-pence for your sake
And drink a bottle full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds in a cake
And bake 'em all in a pie
We pay more than a sixpence
Do you write Story's, Poems, Factual articles, why not let Wikinut publish them for you? have you published them already on other sites? no matter Wikinut can republish them and allow you to double your earnings.
You can be as artistic as you like, the magic of seeing YOUR poem or story in print is wonderful, and to makes things better we will pay you for it, why not give it a try?
Other nursery rhymes in this series
Oranges and Lemons
Pop Goes the Weasel
And finally why not visit my Blog your very welcome to came and have a look.I update my blog each day so visit often as I am always adding new stuff, I would love to see you there.