Three Blind Mice

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"Three Blind Mice"
Roud #3753
Written England
Published c. 1805
Form Nursery rhyme
Writer Traditional
Language English

"Three Blind Mice" is an English nursery rhyme and musical round.[1] It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 3753.


The modern words are:

Tune for "Three Blind Mice".

"Three Blind Mice" round.

Problems playing these files? See media help.
Three blind mice. Three blind mice.
See how they run. See how they run.
They all ran after the farmer's wife,
Who cut off their tails with a carving knife,
Did you ever see such a sight in your life,
As three blind mice?[2]

"Complete version"[edit]

Published by Frederick Warne & Co., an illustrated children's book by John W. Ivimey entitled The Complete Version of Ye Three Blind Mice, fleshes the mice out into mischievous characters who seek adventure, eventually being taken in by a farmer whose wife chases them from the house and into a bramble bush, which blinds them. Soon after, their tails are removed by "the butcher's wife" when the complete version incorporates the original verse. The story ends with them using a tonic to grow new tails and recover their eyesight, learning a trade (making wood chips, according to the accompanying illustration), buying a house and living happily ever after. Published perhaps in 1900,[3] the book is now in the public domain.[4][5]

Origins and meaning[edit]

"Three Blinde Mice" (1609).[6] About this sound Play 

A version of this rhyme, together with music, was published in Deuteromelia or The Seconde part of Musicks melodie (1609).[6] The editor of the book, and possible author of the rhyme,[7] was Thomas Ravenscroft, who in 1609 was still a teenager.[1] The original lyrics are:

Three Blinde Mice,
Three Blinde Mice,
Dame Iulian,
Dame Iulian,
the Miller and his merry olde Wife,
she scrapte her tripe licke thou the knife.[1]

Attempts to read historical significance into the words[2] have led to the speculation that this musical round was written earlier and refers to Queen Mary I of England blinding and executing three Protestant bishops,[8] but problematically the Oxford Martyrs, Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer, were burned at the stake, not blinded; although if the rhyme was made by crypto-Catholics, the mice's "blindness" could refer to their Protestantism.[2]

The rhyme only entered children's literature in 1842 when it was published in a collection by James Orchard Halliwell.


Amateur music composer Thomas Oliphant (1799–1873)[9] noted in 1843 that:

This absurd old round is frequently brought to mind in the present day, from the circumstance of there being an instrumental Quartet by Weiss, through which runs a musical phrase accidentally the same as the notes applied to the word Three Blind Mice. They form a third descending, C, B, A.[10]

Robert Schumann's Kreisleriana #7, which is arguably about a cat (Murr), appears to be based upon "Three Blind Mice", but in a predominantly minor key. "Three Blind Mice" is to be found in the fugue which is the centerpiece of #7.

Joseph Holbrooke (1878–1958) composed his Symphonic Variations, opus 37, based on Three Blind Mice. Also, Joseph Haydn used its theme in the Finale (4th Mvt) of his Symphony 83 (La Poule) (1785–86); one of the 6 Paris Symphonies, and the music also appears in the final movement of English composer Eric Coates' suite The Three Men. "Three Blind Mice" was also used as a theme song for The Three Stooges and a Curtis Fuller arrangement of the rhyme is featured on the Art Blakey live album of the same name. The song is also the basis for Leroy Anderson's orchestral "Fiddle Faddle".

The theme of the second movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 4 (1926, revised 1928 and 1941) was criticized as resembling Three Blind Mice.[11]

Use in popular culture[edit]

The Three Blind Mice are guests of Old King Cole in the 1933 Disney cartoon of the same name.[citation needed]

This melody is also been used in early stage of "Tom and Jerry", such as first 3 Tom and Jerry shorts.

A jazzy "Three Blind Mice" tune is used in the introduction of The Three Stooges short subjects, produced by Columbia Pictures from 1939 through 1959.[citation needed]

The soundtrack for the 1962 James Bond film Dr. No features "Kingston Calypso", a calypso version of "Three Blind Mice" with new lyrics, in reference to three villainous characters in the film.[12]

In 1977, legendary funk group Parliament sampled "Three Blind Mice" for the song "Sir Nose d'Voidoffunk (Pay Attention – B3M)" on their 1977 platinum-selling album Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome. Producer George Clinton arranged the lyrics to say "Three blind mice, see how they run. They all ran after the farmer's wife, turned on the fun with the water pipe, have you ever seen such a sight in your life? Those three blind mice." The lyrics were making a reference to the use of marijuana smoked from a bong. The song was written by Clinton, virtuoso bassist Bootsy Collins and virtuoso keyboardist Bernie Worrell. The song was heavily sampled in Hip hop music. The most known sample being singer Aaliyah's 2000 single "Come Back in One Piece."

In several sports (basketball and hockey, for example, which have three referees), "Three Blind Mice" is used as a derogatory phrase for poor referees. Bands also play the song to mock referees in similar cases. Such references, however, are frowned upon officially by both sports as unsportsmanlike.[13][14][15] Before Major League Baseball required four umpires at every game, there were regularly three. The Brooklyn Dodgers had a fan band called the "Sym-Phoney Band", led by Shorty Laurice, which started playing "Three Blind Mice" when the umpires came out onto the field until the league office ordered the team to stop, around the same time a fourth umpire was added. In 1985, Wilbur Snapp, the organist for the baseball Clearwater Phillies, was thrown out of the game for playing "Three Blind Mice" after what he considered a bad call. In 1992, Jason Patrick, keyboardist for the Amarillo Texans independent baseball team, was also ejected for playing the song after a disputed call. On August 1, 2012, during a Daytona Cubs – Fort Myers Miracle minor-league baseball game, umpire Mario Seneca tossed the public address announcer Derek Dye for playing the song "Three Blind Mice" after a disputed call at first base.[16]

The VIC-20 and Commodore 64 computer game Radar Rat Race from 1981 used a fast-paced, out of tune version of the song as background theme, which cycles endlessly.[citation needed]

Reggae artist Max Romeo has covered the rhyme. Canadian rock trio Rush often played "Three Blind Mice" as an intro to their own songs in concert, notably during their "Hold Your Fire" tour of 1987–1988.[17]

The nursery rhyme plays significantly into the plot of Agatha Christie's short story of the same name as well as The Mousetrap, the stage play based upon it.[citation needed]

The Three Blind Mice are minor characters in the Shrek films, alongside other popular fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters.

Belgian rock band dEUS featured a snippet of Three Blind Mice in the song Secret Hell from their first album.

On June 9, 2012, Top Rank CEO, Bob Arum referred to the three judges scoring the controversial boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley as the Three Blind Mice, for the judges scored in favor of Bradley, despite the fact that Pacquiao dominated the fight.


  1. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), p. 306.
  2. ^ a b c W. S. Baring-Gould and C. Baring-Gould, The Annotated Mother Goose: Nursery Rhymes Old and New (Bramhall House, 1962), p. 156.
  3. ^ "Complete Version of Ye Three Blind Mice Hardcover – 1900". Amazon. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Complete version of ye three blind mice ([1909]) on Internet Archive
  5. ^ Complete Version of ye Three Blind Mice by John W. Ivimey at Project Gutenberg
  6. ^ a b Thomas Ravenscroft., Deuteromelia or The Seconde part of Musicks melodie, or melodius Musicke. Of Pleasant Roundalaies; Printed for Thomas Adams (1609). "Rounds or Catches of 3 Voices, #13" (Online version)
  7. ^ Christopher Baker, Absolutism and the scientific revolution, 1600–1720: a biographical dictionary, "Ravenscroft, Thomas (C.1590-C.1623)", Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-30827-6, ISBN 978-0-313-30827-7, 450 pages (page 319)
  8. ^ Espoused by Albert Jack, Pop Goes the Weasel: The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes, Allen Lane (2008). ISBN 978-1-84614-144-7.
  9. ^ Papers of the Manchester Literary Club By Manchester Literary Club, Published by H. Rawson & Co., 1890
  10. ^ La musa madrigalesca: Or, A Collection of Madrigals, Ballets, Roundelays, Etc., Chiefly of the Elizabethan Age; with Remarks and Annotations. By Thomas Oliphant, Published by Calkin and Budd, 1837
  11. ^ Greenfield, Edward (1988). The Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-046829-3. 
  12. ^ "‘The Three Blind Mice’ (‘The Three Blind Mice’)", James Bond multimedia.
  13. ^ Ethier, Bryan (Dec, 2001). Play Us a Song, You're the Organ Man, Hockey Digest.
  14. ^ ESPN – Frank not fined; Kidd docked $20K for postgame rant – NBA,
  15. ^ Harvard University Band[page needed]
  16. ^ "Umpire ejects announcer at Daytona Cubs game for playing 'Three Blind Mice' after questionable call". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  17. ^ 'What was your favourite Rush concert... and Why?', The National Midday Sun.

External links[edit]