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Baa Baa Black Sheep

Baa Baa Black Sheep is one of the oldest and best-loved nursery rhymes in the English language.

It dates back at least 250 years to the 1740s which is pretty amazing when you think that it's still enjoyed by children today.

baa baa black sheepgorgeous art by Deborah Cavanagh

In fact, Baa Baa Black Sheep was first mentioned in 1744, although the words were slightly different.

The version of Baa Baa Black Sheep on this page is the one which is most commonly recited or sung to children and babies today. 

The language is more modern than the language in the original rhyme so it's easier for our 21st century kiddos to understand.

If you're not familiar with the tune Baa Baa Black Sheep is usually sung to, you might like to check out this YouTube clip.

It comes from an Australian TV show for kids called Play School and it's pretty cute.

Baa Baa Black Sheep

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


Nursery Rhyme Origins

Nursery rhymes were passed down orally from parents to their children for many, many years before anyone thought to write them down. This is why it's often hard to work out how old they are, where they originated or the original wording that was used.

Over the years, new variations appeared, making it even harder to trace the original rhyme.

Here's the 1740s version of Baa Baa Black Sheep:

Bah, bah, a black sheep, 
Have you any wool, 
Yes merry have I, 
Three bags full, 
One for my master, 
One for my dame, 
One for my little boy 
That lives in the lane.


References: Opie, I; & Opie, P. (Eds.). (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

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