Johnny, Johnny, Yes Papa only emerged in written records in the 1980s, making it one of the newer nursery rhymes documented. However, there are personal accounts from both Kenya and India dating back a further 30-50 years, but these accounts cannot be fully substantiated due to the fact an identical song derived many years before this in another format.
The melody is almost identical to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the verses can be extended by substituting other items for sugar while following the same format so the song can be personalized depending on the singer.
The verse is popular with children because it has a back-and-forth structure that can be sung between two people, and it is usually two children who can keep the song going between them until one cannot think of anything else to add. There are also actions that go alongside the words which are lots of fun to act out!
Johnny, Johnny, Yes Papa Lyrics
Hush, little Baby, don’t say a word,
Mama’s gonna buy you a Mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don’t sing,
Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Mama’s gonna buy you a billy goat,
And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Mama’s gonna buy you a cart and a bull.
And if that cart and bull turn over,
Mama’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Mama’s gonna buy you a horse and a cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.