This Old Man

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"This Old Man"
Nursery rhyme
Songwriter(s)Traditional

"This Old Man" is an English language children's song, counting exercise and nursery rhyme with a Roud Folk Song Index number of 3550.

Origins and history[edit]

The origins of this song are obscure. The earliest extant record is a version noted in Anne Gilchrist's Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1937), learned from her Welsh nurse in the 1870s under the title "Jack Jintle" with the lyrics:[1]

My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but one,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own thumb.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but two,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own shoe.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but three,
And I can play nick-nack upon my own knee.
With my nick-nack and click-clack and sing a fine song,
And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

Lyrics[edit]

A more familiar version goes like this:[2]

This old man, he played one,
He played knick-knack on my thumb;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played two,
He played knick-knack on my shoe;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played three,
He played knick-knack on my knee;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played four,
He played knick-knack on my door;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played five,
He played knick-knack on my hive;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played six,
He played knick-knack on my sticks;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played seven,
He played knick-knack up in Heaven;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played eight,
He played knick-knack on my gate;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played nine,
He played knick-knack on his spine;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, he played ten,
He played knick-knack once again;
With a knick-knack paddywhack,
Give a dog a bone,
This old man came rolling home.

Variations[edit]

Nicholas Monsarrat (1910–1979), in his autobiography Life Is a Four Letter Word, refers to the song as being 'a Liverpool song' adding that it was 'local and original' during his childhood in Liverpool. A similar version was included in Cecil Sharp and Sabine Baring-Gould's English Folk-Songs for Schools, published in 1906.[3] It was collected several times in England in the early 20th century with a variety of lyrics. In 1948 it was included by Pete Seeger and Ruth Crawford in their American Folk Songs for Children and recorded by Seeger in 1953. It received a boost in popularity when it was adapted for the film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) by composer Malcolm Arnold as "The Children's Marching Song", which led to hit singles for Cyril Stapleton and Mitch Miller,[4] both versions making the Top 40.[5] The song was used in the "Tamba's Abacus" game from Tikkabilla

References[edit]

  1. ^ A. G. Gilchrist, "Jack Jintle", Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, 3 (2) (1937), pp. 124–5.
  2. ^ Thompson, Debbie; Hardwick, Darlene (1993). Early Childhood Themes Through the Year. Teacher Created Resources. ISBN 978-1-55734-146-4. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  3. ^ S. B. Gould and C. J. Sharp English Folk-Songs for Schools (London: J. Curwen & Sons, 1906) pp. 94–5.
  4. ^ N. Musiker and D. Adès, Conductors and Composers of Popular Orchestral Music: a Biographical and Discographical Sourcebook (London: Greenwood, 1998), p. 248.
  5. ^ "billboard.com". billboard.com. Retrieved 28 January 2021.