Three Little Girls A-Skating Went
DESCRIPTION: "Three little girls a-skating went, a-skating went, a-skating went, Three little girls a-skating went All on a summer day." "The ice was thin, they all fell in, they all fell in, they all fell in... Or else they've run away."
EARLIEST DATE: 1651 (The Loves of Hero and Leander, according to Opie-Oxford2)
KEYWORDS: playparty humorous drowning
FOUND IN: US(MW,NE,So) Britain
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Wolford, p. 88=WolfordRev, pp. 204-205, "Six Little Girls A-Sliding Went" (1 text, 1 tune)
Linscott, pp. 288-289, "Three Children Sliding on the Ice" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 588, "Three Little Girls A-Skating Went" (1 text)
Opie-Oxford2 99, "Three children sliding on the ice" (2 texts; there is also a print of the Mother Goose's Melody text in plate IX facing p. 200)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #32, p. 46, "(Three children sliding on the ice)"
ST R588 (Full)
cf. "The Lamentations of a Bad Market" (and notes there)
cf. "There Was a Young Couple" (probable derivative)
The Ice Was Thin
NOTES [223 words]: Although most American editors seem unaware of the connection, this goes back at least to the eighteenth century in Britain, and was common in garlands in that period. It has been ascribed to John Gay and to the editor of Mother Goose's Melody (Oliver Goldsmith?). However, its appearance in Tommy Thumb's storybook pretty well precludes Goldsmith's authorship, and I know of no reason to believe in Gay's.
The original air is said to have been "Chevy Chase," but this does not appear to have been the tune used in the U. S. - RBW
Opie-Oxford2, p. 19: "In The Lamentations of a Bad Market ... it is the twelfth, eighteenth, and nineteenth stanzas which are known to the world; thet tell of 'Three children sliding on the ice' [Opie-Oxford2 99, "Three children sliding on the ice"]."
See James Orchard Halliwell, The Nursery Rhymes of England (London, 1843 ("Digitized by Google")),#41 pp. 28-31, ("Come Christian people, all give ear"), "From 'Ovid de Arte Amandi,&c. Englished, together with Choice Poems, and rare Pieces of Drollery.' 1662." This is the original tragedy of "the death of three children dear" during a fire at London bridge [Opie speculates, February 1633]. Following Opie-Oxford2, see verses 12 ("Three children sliding thereabouts"), 18 ("Ye parents all that children have") and 19 ("For had they at a sermon been"). - BS
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