Goosey Goosey Gander

The nursery rhyme Goose Goose Gander was originally published in London in Gammer Gurton’s Garland or The Nursery Parnassus in 1784. This early version didn’t have the final four lines, so was much more benign wording with no one being hurled down a flight of stairs! It appears that the modern Goosey Goosey Gander is an amalgamation of this original rhyme, plus another ditty from 1780 about the crane fly. 

The precise meaning of Goosey Goosey Gander has never been clear, but there are many who believe that it’s related to the persecution of Catholic priests. Hiding in priest holes, they would be forcibly ejected from the premises if found. 

There are other suggested meanings for the rhyme with another popular choice being that it is a rhyme about fertility and others even claiming that it could relate to prostitution in Victorian times and offering a clear warning to anyone that may be considering visiting them.

Goosey Goosey Gander Lyrics

Goosey goosey gander,
Whither shall I wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
And in my lady’s chamber.
There I met an old man
Who wouldn’t say his prayers,
So I took him by his left leg
And threw him down the stair

Goosey Goosey Gander Music Sheet