“Hush, Little Baby”

Alternate titles: “Mockingbird Song”; “Papa's Going to Buy Me a Mockingbird”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1918 (Cecil Sharp collection)
Keywords: lullaby bird commerce gift
Found in: US(Ap,SE,So) Canada(Newf)

Description

"Hush little baby, don't say a word, Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird won't sing. Papa's gonna buy you...." And so forth, through many objects, ending "And if that () won't (), you'll still be the prettiest little baby in town."

Notes

An Ozark version of this song ends "If that lookin-glass doesn't shine, Papa's going to shoot that beau of mine!" -- referring to a belief that mirrors only shone for chaste women.

Although this particular song seems to have become popular only recently, the form with progressive items is old; Gammer Gurton's Garland (1784), for instance, has a poem beginning

A man of words and not of deeds

Is like a garden full of weeds;

And when the weeds begin to grow,

It's like a garden full of snow;

And when the snow begins to fall,

It's like a bird upon the wall....

(For this poem, see Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #75, p. 81; also in Talley's _Negro Folk Rhymes_). - RBW

Cross references

References

  1. Randolph 359, "Mamma, Mamma, Have You Heard?" (1 short text plus a fragment, 1 tune)
  2. BrownII 196, "Swapping Songs" (4 text plus 2 excerpts, with most texts being "The Swapping Boy," but "E" and "F" are this song)
  3. SharpAp 234, "The Mocking Bird" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  4. Peacock, p. 15, "Lullaby" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #558, p. 228, "(Hush, little baby, don't say a word)"
  6. Scott-BoA, p. 164, "Hush, Little Baby" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Arnett, p. 61, "Hush, Little Baby" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Pankake-PHCFSB, pp. 224-225, "Mockingbird" (1 text, with some unusual verses; the ending may be a parody)
  9. Silber-FSWB, p. 409, "Hush Little Baby" (1 text)
  10. DT, HUSHLIL*
  11. Roud #470
  12. BI, SBoA164