Lavender's Blue

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Lavender's Blue
English folk song
Diddle, diddle. Or, The kind country lovers (bod23683).png
A 17th-century broadside version of the ballad
CatalogueRoud 3483
GenreNursery rhyme
PublishedEnglish broadside (before 1680)
Commentcollected in the UK & US

"Lavender's Blue" (sometimes called "Lavender Blue") is an English folk song and nursery rhyme dating to the 17th century. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 3483. It has been recorded in various forms since the 20th century and some pop versions have been hits in the US and UK charts.


There are as many as thirty verses to the song, and many variations of each verse. A typical version, described by James Halliwell in 1849,[1] is:

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen:
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?
'Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.
Call up your men, dilly dilly, set them to work,
Some with a rake, dilly dilly, some with a fork;
Some to make hay, dilly dilly, some to thresh corn,
Whilst you and I, dilly dilly, keep ourselves warm.
If you should die, dilly dilly, as it may hap,
You shall be buried, dilly dilly, under the tap;
Who told you so, dilly dilly, pray tell me why?
That you might drink, dilly dilly, when you are dry.[1]


The earliest surviving version of the song is in a broadside printed in England between 1672 and 1679,[2] under the name Diddle Diddle, Or The Kind Country Lovers.[3] The broadside indicates it is to be sung to the tune of "Lavender Green", implying that a tune by that name was already in existence. The lyrics printed in the broadside are fairly bawdy, celebrating sex and drinking.[4]

According to Robert B. Waltz, "The singer tells his lady that she must love him because he loves her. He tells of a vale where young man and maid have lain together, and suggests that they might do the same". Waltz cites Sandra Stahl Dolby as describing this broadside version as being about a girl named Nell keeping the singer's bed warm.[2]

Here is the first of ten verses:

Lavender's green, diddle, diddle,
Lavender's blue
You must love me, diddle, diddle,
cause I love you,
I heard one say, diddle, diddle,
since I came hither,
That you and I, diddle, diddle,
must lie together.[5]

Both Waltz (citing Eloise Hubbard Linscott) and Halliwell have noted the song's association with Twelfth Night and the choosing of the king of queen of the festivities of that holiday.[2][1]

"Lavender's Blue" emerged as a children's song in Songs for the Nursery in 1805 in the form:

Lavender blue and Rosemary green,
When I am king you shall be queen;
Call up my maids at four o'clock,
Some to the wheel and some to the rock;
Some to make hay and some to shear corn,
And you and I will keep the bed warm.[5]

Similar versions appeared in collections of rhymes throughout the 19th century.[5]

20th century[edit]

"Lavender Blue"
Single by Sammy Turner
from the album Lavender Blue Moods
B-side"Wrapped Up In A Dream"
Format7-inch 45 RPM
LabelBig Top
Sammy Turner singles chronology
"Lavender Blue"
"Sweet Annie Laurie"

A version of the song, titled "Lavender Blue", was featured in the 1949 Walt Disney film So Dear to My Heart, where it was sung by Burl Ives. This version was nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1949 (losing to "Baby, It's Cold Outside" from Neptune's Daughter). This version of the song was credited to Eliot Daniel (music) and Larry Morey (lyrics). "Lavender Blue" was one of 400 nominees for the American Film Institute's "100 Years... 100 Songs" list of the 100 greatest film songs, which was presented on a television program of that name which aired on June 22, 2004, but it didn't make the final list.[6][7] The appearance of "Lavender Blue" in the Disney film sparked a revival of interest in the song.


Several versions of the song have been released in the US and the UK.[2]

In other media[edit]


  • In 1948, the song was featured in the film So Dear to My Heart.
  • In 2012, the song made several appearances in the film Christmas Oranges, sung by the protagonist, Rose (Bailee Michelle Johnson).
  • In 2015, the song was used again by Disney in Cinderella. It is sung to Cinderella by her mother (Hayley Atwell) when she is a child and later by an adult Cinderella (Lily James) when she's locked in her room by her stepmother (Cate Blanchett). The film's score also uses an orchestral version of the song at various points.
  • In 2017, the song made an appearance in the Hallmark made-for-TV movie A Royal Winter when the underprivileged children sang it for the Crown Prince Adrian and again at the end of the movie.
  • In the Canadian film Lavender (2016 film), a similar version of the song is sung, but made to sound more sinister.


  • Naomi Mitchison used the first line in her 1931 historical novel The Corn King and The Spring Queen
  • In John Updike's 1960 short story, "A Sense Of Shelter," the story's protagonist sings the song to himself.[15]
  • Andre Norton's 1975 novel, Lavender-Green Magic includes the lyrics to the song, and the title of the book is drawn from the second line of the song.
  • In 1980, the song was a prominent motif in M.M. Kaye's children's novel The Ordinary Princess.
  • In 1989, the song appeared in the horror novel Walkers by Graham Masterton.
  • A ghost named The Harper's Bride in Nora Roberts' best selling In the Garden trilogy sang it for many years as she haunted a mansion's nursery and watched over the babies.
  • Sabrina Spellman's mother, Diana, is seen singing the song while she is imprisoned in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic series.
  • In 2018, allusions to the song were repeatedly made in Hazel Gaynor's historical fiction novel The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter.



  • In an episode of U.S. sitcom The Ghost & Mrs. Muir aired in 1969, Mark Lester, playing a visiting English schoolboy sings this song to regular cast member, Candy, in a dream sequence.
  • It is used in Series 1 Episode 2 of UK dark comedy Nighty Night. Jill does an interpretive dance about her husband's cancer as the man she falls for walks into the church hall.
  • In the Broadcast to the Empire Christmas Night with the Stars episode of Dad's Army broadcast in 1972, Sergeant Wilson says a few lines of the song as a microphone test for the BBC Radio Christmas Broadcast.
  • In 2010, during episode four of season one, called "I Remember Nothing" of the Australian drama series "Spirited", produced by Foxtel, the main protagonist Henry Mallet sings the song to Suzy Darling's young sleeping daughter Verity.
  • On the Australian children's TV show Wurrawhy, Wubleyoo and Lauren performed a song, with Lauren strumming the guitar.[importance?]
  • In 2011, the character Freida Short sings it to Van Alden's newborn baby in the episode "Peg of Old" (Season 2 Episode 7) of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
  • In 2017, in Hallmark Channel's original movie "A Royal Winter", the children's choir sings this song which the King used to sing to the Prince when he was a boy.
  • In 2019, the Netflix original series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina used the song (an original recording) in an episode.


  1. ^ a b c Halliwell, James Orchard (1849). Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales. London: John Russell Smith. pp. 237–238. ISBN 978-0370012551. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Robert B. Waltz & David G. Engle. "Lavender Blue". Traditional Ballad Index. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  3. ^ See also here
  4. ^ (Traditional) (1674–1679). "Diddle, Diddle (or The Kind Country Lovers)". Traditional Music Library. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Opie, Iona; Opie, Peter (1951). The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. Oxford University Press. pp. 265–7. ISBN 9780198691112.
  6. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs (nominee list)" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  7. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs". American Film Institute. 2004. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  8. ^ "Billboard Best Sellers Chart History – "Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly)" by Sammy Kaye 1949". Song Database. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  9. ^ "Song artist 62 - Dinah Shore". The World's Music Charts. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  10. ^ "Dinah Shore – Lavender Blue". Discogs. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  11. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart History – "Lavender-Blue" by Sammy Turner 1959". Song Database. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  12. ^ "Sammy Turner Top Songs". Music VF. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Marillion: Misplaced Childhood". Dutch Progressive Rock Page. Retrieved June 18, 2013.
  14. ^ David Roberts British Hit Singles and Albums, Guinness World Records Limited
  15. ^ Updike, John (January 16, 1960). "A Sense of Shelter". The New Yorker: 29. Retrieved March 7, 2017. Shuffling through the perfumed crowds to his next class, he crooned to himself, in the slow, over-enunciated manner of the Negro vocalist who had brought the song back this year, "Lah-vender blue, dilly dilly, / Lavendih greeh-een; / Eef I were king, dilly dilly, / You would: be queen". The song gave him an exulting sliding sensation..."
  16. ^ Philip Rupprecht (11 February 2002). Britten's Musical Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 157–. ISBN 978-1-139-44128-5.

External links[edit]