Oh dear what can the matter be!

May 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Dear dear, what can the matter be?
Oh dear, what can the matter be?
Johnny’s so long at the fair.

He promised he’d buy me a fairing would please me,
And then for a kiss oh he vowed he would tease me,
He promised he’d buy me a bunch of blue ribbons,
To tie up my bonnie brown hair.

Oh dear what can the matter be illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright

This girl in a 1916 illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright has the wistfulness I get from this song. It may have originated as a Scots song, in the late 1700s. It would make a lovely pairing with ‘My bonny lies over the ocean’, which I guess also has Scots origin. According to my Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes, there are more verses, and in fact a more nursery version – but I don’t think it fits well to the tune – or not the one I know at any rate. I like it none the less and can see myself chanting it as I try to get my kids dressed!

Jonny shall have a new bonnet,
And Jonny shall go to the fair,
And Jonny shall have a blue ribbon
To tie up his bonny brown hair.
…..
And here’s a leg for a stocking,
And here’s a leg for shoe,
And he has a kiss for his daddy,
And two for his mammy, I trow.

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