Old Mother Hubbard
DESCRIPTION: "Old Mother Hubbard Went to the cupboard To get her poor dog a bone, But when she got there The cupboard was bare And so the poor dog had none." Additional verses tell of Mother Hubbard's efforts for the dog and how almost all fail
AUTHOR: unknown (many additional verses by Sarah Catherine Martin, 1768-1826)
EARLIEST DATE: before 1797 (cf. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose)
KEYWORDS: dog death food humorous home commerce clothes
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Opie-Oxford2 365, "Old Mother Hubbard" (1 text plus some possibly-related fragments; also illustrations from several editions, including what seems to have been Sarah Catherine Martin's first publication)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #134, pp. 111-113, "(Old Mother Hubbard)"
Jack, p. 143, "Old Mother Hubbard" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 87, "Old Mother Hubbard" (1 text)
cf. DT, MERRYLND
ADDITIONAL: Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, pp. 30-31, "Jack and Gill" (a combination of "Jack and Jill," "Old Mother Hubbard," and "Mother, May I Go to Swim," with a "Never Get Drunk" chorus)
NOTES: This is probably only a nursery *rhyme*, and not a nursery *song*, and so properly does not belong in the Index. But Tony and Irene Saletan recorded it as part of their version of "Hail to Britannia" (which includes many nursery rhymes), so it does have a musical tradition of sorts.
In addition, though most of us hear only one verse of this, the Baring-Gould text is 14 stanzas long, although many of the stanzas are silly:
She went to the tailors
To buy him a coat,
But when she came back
He [the dog, note] was riding a goat.
Still, there is a plot in the early stanzas. The whole looks like a song, if an absurd one. - RBW
Opie-Oxford2: "It is now clear that the first three verses of Sarah Catherine Marin's 'Old Mother Hubbard' were taken from tradition, and that her contribution was to write eleven more verses, and to illustrate the whole. The first three verses had appeared in sheet-music form as one of Dr Samuel Arnold's Juvenile Amusements (1797), and were certainly not new then." - BS
Louis Untermeyer, The Golden Treasury of Poetry, credits the whole thing to Sarah Catherine Martin, and has a total of 16 verses. But he doesn't understand tradition very well. The Martin version is said to have been published in 1804. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.8
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.