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As many of you can see, I've been a pretty terrible blogger lately! What can I say...Life.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day Five of the Truth Behind the Nursery Rhyme: Rock-a-bye Baby/ John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt/ Mary had a Little Lamb

Many of the popular nursery rhymes originated from Europe. Well, all these orignate from the goold old US of A. Take a look...

John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,
His name is my name too.
Whenever we go out,
The people always shout,
There goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.
Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah

The words of the Nursery Rhyme, 'John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt ' originate in the USA and possibly reflect the enormous numbers of German immigrants at various points in American history. The surname Schmidt and the surname suffix -heimer are of Germanic origin. It is a favorite rhyme of children and often referred to as a 'Bus Song'. The pseudo-German word 'Jingleheimer' was probably used to mock the longer names often found in this language.

Rock-a-bye, baby,
In the tree top.
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all

The American roots of this odd rhyme come from a young pilgrim who saw Native American mothers hanging cradles in trees. When the wind blew, the cradles would rock and the babies in them would sleep.

Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow;
And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rule;
It made the children laugh and play, to see a lamb at school.
And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.
"Why does the lamb love Mary so?" the eager children cry;
"Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know" the teacher did reply.

The words of the American nursery rhyme Mary had a little lamb would appeal to a small children and introduces imagery of similes (white as snow) as part of use of the English language. The words also convey the hopeful adage that love is reciprocated! No specific historical connection can be traced to the words of
Mary had a little lamb but it can be confirmed that the song Mary had a little lamb is American as the words were written by Sarah Hale, of Boston, in 1830. An interesting historical note about this rhyme - the words of Mary had a Little Lamb were the first ever recorded by Thomas Edison, on tin foil, on his phonograph.

Original information and images can be found at...
http://www.rhymes.org.uk/, and Bing images.


  1. I really love how you blog about things that you'd never even think about in daily life. My mum and I used to sing John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt all the time, but I've never thought about the words, where it comes from and such. Thanks for informing me on this. :D



  2. Another insight into nursery rhymes. Excellent - and this lot were less savage then the rest! Shah. X

  3. Oh AubrieAnne, Nursery Rhymes with less angry meanings behind them - I never knew that those were from the USA - another discovery! They've all been very interesting.

  4. I had always assumed that Jingleheimer-Schmidt referred to a Jewish person.

  5. Creative Muslimah...Ha! It was pretty random. This idea got brought up in my creative writing class. Actually, we were talking about fairy tales, but I thought nursery rhymes would be easier to uncover a bit of history because I don't believe they have changed as much as some of the fairy tales have.

    shah...Yes, I thought it would be nice to end a slightly less bloody note. :)

    dtwilight...Me either. I thought they ALL came from Europe. My bad. lol.

    Matt...Hmmm, I don't know. I guess they could have been Jewish since there is no reference to religion in the this particular history.

  6. I also learned in a media history class that the actual first audio recording was by a Frenchman singing a different song.

  7. I'm new to blogging and I found your blog in the Friday Blog Hop. I really love your site and I hope to someday have one this nice.
    I hope you will follow me back at

  8. I found you on the Fun Follow Friday blog hop.

    I was fascinated with your "Truth Behind the Nursery Rhymes" blogs. I plan to come back tomorrow and check out your history of Flappers post.

    Would you mind if I use some of your nursery rhyme posts to teach symbolism to my middle schoolers? They love the morbid, and the subtle bits of history would be great conversation starters.

  9. Matt...I did not know that.

    Monica...Thank you and also I am so happy that you found me and that you are following! Welcome!

    flashlight_reader...I am glad that you found them interesting and of course you can use these posts to teach some middle schoolers! Thanks for asking! I got all the information off of those two websites I proveded at the end of the post so they will give you all you need!

  10. I signed up for email delivery hoping to get your post delivered to my email.:)

  11. The Adventurer...Awesome! I hope it works. It's a relatively new feature.


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