Goosey Goosey Gander
“Goosey, Goosey Gander” is a well known traditional rhyme dating back to the late 18th century, still in circulation although perhaps losing favors because some of its imagery is not considered quite right for today’s children.
Although there is no exact evidence of this, it is believed that the origins of “Goosey, Goosey Gander” dates back to the 16th century, during King Henry VII’s reign, and it was used as propaganda of the Protestants against the Catholic Church.
Historically speaking, this rhyme seems to have less textual cohesion than most nursery rhymes, and there is evidence that this standard modern text is actually two older rhymes spliced together. The first four lines are quoted in 1784, and first printed c.1790, while the last four are of similar age but are often found in a traditional rhyme addressed to the crane fly.
The rhyme is about a man who goes up and down the stairs, and when he meets an old man who won’t say his prayers, he takes him by the left leg and throws him down the stairs.
“Goosey Goosey Gander” Lyrics
Goosey, goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair
“Goosey Goosey Gander” Original Version
Goose-a goose-a gander,
Where shall I wander?
Up stairs and down stairs,
In my lady’s chamber;
There you’ll find a cup of sack
And a race of ginger
An another version have the additional concluding lines:
The stairs went crack,
He nearly broke his back.
And all the little ducks went,
‘Quack, quack, quack
‘Iona and Peter Opie’ note records of a separate rhyme referring to the ‘Crane fly’ recorded from about 1780, which they suggest may have been amalgamated with this rhyme in the early nineteenth century:
Old father Long-Legs
Can’t say his prayers:
take him by the left leg,
And throw him downstairs
Frequently asked questions (FAQ's) based on “Goosey Goosey Gander”
Answer: It is a traditional English nursery rhyme that tells the story of a man who goes up and down a staircase looking for someone to give a gift to. Along the way, he encounters different people and animals in various rooms of the house.
Answer: The origin of the rhyme is unknown, but it is believed to date back to at least the 18th century.
Answer: In the second stanza, the man encounters an old man who won’t say his prayers. The man then picks up the old man by his left leg and throws him down the stairs.
Answer: It has a simple melody that is easy to sing along to. It is often accompanied by clapping or other physical gestures.
Answer: Yes, some have raised concerns about the violent content of the second stanza, in which the man throws the old man down the stairs. Some versions of the song have been modified to remove or alter the offending lines.
Some more details based on "Goosey Goosey Gander"
There are several theories about the origins of this rhyme. One theory suggests that the rhyme was inspired by the religious turmoil of the Tudor period in England, when Catholics were persecuted for their beliefs. The old man in the rhyme may have been a Catholic priest who refused to say his prayers in the Protestant Church of England.
Another theory suggests that the rhyme is about the persecution of the Jews during the medieval period in England. The old man in the rhyme may have been a Jewish moneylender who refused to convert to Christianity.
One interesting fact about this rhyme is that it has been adapted into several different versions around the world. In the United States, for example, the rhyme is often called “Goosey Goosey Gander, Where Shall I Wander?” and features a slightly different melody and lyrics.
Another interesting fact about this rhyme is that it has been the subject of various parodies and adaptations over the years. In the 1950s, for example, the British comedian Spike Milligan wrote a version of the rhyme called “Goosey Goosey Gonzo“, which featured new lyrics and a more comedic tone.
In Australia, the rhyme is known as “Goosey Goosey Gander, Where Do You Wander?” and is often accompanied by a simple dance routine.
In conclusion, Goosey Goosey Gander is a traditional nursery rhyme with a rich and fascinating history. Despite its dark origins, it has remained a beloved children’s song for generations, and continues to be enjoyed by children around the world.
Some activities for children's based on "Goosey Goosey Gander"
- Puppet Show: Use puppets or stuffed animals to act out the story of the rhyme. Children can take turns playing the different characters and reciting the rhyme together.
Note: This activity promotes imaginative play and storytelling skills, while also helping children develop their social and communication skills.
- Prayer Discussion: Talk with children about the importance of saying prayers and respecting other people’s beliefs. Use the rhyme as a starting point for a conversation about religion, faith, and tolerance.
Note: This activity helps children develop their understanding of different cultures and beliefs, while also promoting empathy and respect for others.