Row, Row, Row Your Boat

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"Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
Row your boat.svg
Nursery rhyme
Published1852
Songwriter(s)Eliphalet Oram Lyte

"Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is an English language nursery rhyme and a popular children's song, often sung in a round. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 19236.

Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961). Crosby also used the song as part of a round with his family during his concert at the London Palladium in 1976. The performance was captured on the album Bing Crosby Live at the London Palladium.

Lyrics[edit]

The most common modern version is often sung as a round for up to four voice parts (play ). A possible arrangement for SATB is as follows:

Soprano Alto Tenor Bass
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream. Row, row, row your boat
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Gently down the stream. Row, row, row your boat
Life is but a dream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Gently down the stream. Row, row, row your boat
Life is but a dream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Gently down the stream.
Life is but a dream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
The text above is often sung multiple times in succession to allow for the different voices to interweave with each other, forming four-part harmony.

Melody[edit]

[1]


\relative c' {
c4 c4 c8. d16 e4 | e8. d16 e8. f16 g2 |    
\times 2/3 {c8 c c}   \times 2/3 {g8 g g} \times 2/3 {e8 e e} \times 2/3 {c8 c c} |
g'8. f16 e8. d16 c2 }
\addlyrics {
Row, row, row your boat gent- ly down the stream;
mer- ri- ly, mer- ri- ly, mer- ri- ly, mer- ri- ly,
life is but a dream! }

Origins[edit]

The earliest printing of the song is from 1852, when the lyrics were published with similar lyrics to those used today, but with a very different tune. It was reprinted again two years later with the same lyrics and another tune. The modern tune was first recorded with the lyrics in 1881, mentioning Eliphalet Oram Lyte in The Franklin Square Song Collection but not making it clear whether he was the composer or adapter.[2]

Legacy and alternative versions[edit]

The nursery rhyme is well known, appearing in several films, e.g. Star Trek V, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Manos: The Hands of Fate. People often add additional verses, a form of children's street culture, with the intent of either extending the song or (especially in the case of more irreverent versions) to make it funny, parody it, or substitute another sensibility for the perceived innocent one of the original. In Bean, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) and Peter MacNicol (David Langley) also used this parody singing in the film.[3] Don Music, a muppet character in Sesame Street, changed the lyrics to feature a car instead of a boat.[4][5][6]

Versions include:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
If you see a crocodile,
Don't forget to scream.

and

Row, row, row your boat
Underneath the stream.
Ha-ha, fooled you!
I'm a submarine.

and

Row, row, row your boat
Gently to the shore.
If you see a lion,
Don’t forget to roar.

and

Row, row, row your boat
Gently around the bath.
If you see a large giraffe,
Don’t forget to laugh.

and

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the river.
If you see a polar bear,
Don’t forget to shiver.

and

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Throw your teacher overboard,
And listen to her scream.[7]

and

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Try to make it back to shore,
Before your boat sinks.

and

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the creek.
If your boat fills with water,
Then you've got a leak.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Gilbert DeBenedetti. "Row Row Row Your Boat sheet music" (PDF). Retrieved September 9, 2022.
  2. ^ Studwell, S. M. (1997). The Americana Song Reader. New York: Haworth Press. p. 82. ISBN 0-7890-0150-0.
  3. ^ Johnson, B. & Cloonan, M. (2009). Dark Side of the Tune: Popular Music and Violence. Aldershot: Ashgate. p. 98. ISBN 1-4094-0049-2.
  4. ^ "10 Muppets Kicked Off Sesame Street". BuzzFeed Community. November 30, 2010. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  5. ^ "What Ever Happened to Don Music?The Sesame Workshop Blog". www.sesameworkshop.org. Sesame Workshop. April 8, 2013. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  6. ^ Reeseman, Bryan (August 21, 2012). "Sesame Street's Don Music: The Original Headbanger – Attention Deficit Delirium". www.bryanreesman.com. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
  7. ^ Lightfoot, C. (1997). The Culture of Adolescent Risk-Taking Culture and Human Development. New York: Guilford Press. p. 78. ISBN 1-57230-232-1.