Baa Baa Black Sheep

As with many nursery rhymes, the origins of Baa Baa Black Sheep are not well known though its earliest published version dates back to 1744. It was printed in the oldest surviving collection of songs known as Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book

There is speculation that the song alludes to the heavy taxation of wool in the 15th Century when black wool was a prized possession as it was used to make dark-colored clothing without dye. The “master” is the state, the “dame” is the church and the little boy down the lane is the owner of the sheep.

Controversies aside, the song has been quite popular over the years. Its lyrics have been pretty much the same over the years. In its next known publication, Mother Goose’s Melody, the only difference in the lyrics is in the song’s last lines. The lyrics of the modern version are also quite similar to the original. It is sung to a variation of the French melody Ah ! Vous dirai-je maman, the melody also used for other famous nursery rhymes like the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Alphabet Song.

Baa Baa Black Sheep kept its freshness over the years and nowadays it is used to teach kids basic math and to have fun imitating the sound made by sheep. 

Baa Baa, Black Sheep Lyrics

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

Baa Baa Black Sheep Music Sheet