Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ring Games From Raleigh, N.C.

You may remember, in your childhood, playing ring games like "London Bridge is Falling Down" at recess. The Google book, The Journal of American folklore, Volume 34 by the American Folklore Society, published in 1921, includes a chapter entitled "Riddles and Ring Games From Raleigh, N. C." In that chapter, there are several riddles and ring games that were popular at that time.

Below are three of the ring games that you may not know.


The ring chorus first sing (a); then, after the player in the centre of the ring makes his choice, they sing b.


King William was King George's son,
All the royal race is run,
Upon his breast he wore a star,
Three gold rings and a glittering star.
Go choose the East, Go choose the West,
Choose the one that you love best,


If he's not here for to take your part,
Choose another with all your heart,
Down on this carpet, you must kneel,
sure's the grass grows in the field,
When you rise upon your feet,
Salute your bride and kiss her sweet.

This song appears in many places, including Newfoundland and Connecticut. One early record of it is in Games and songs of American children by William Wells Newell, published in 1884. This book can be viewed at Google Books.


The players march in couples, leaving one without a partner. After singing, the girls turn the boys aloose, and the boys look for new partners. Each time an odd one is left, and this is where the fun comes in.

It rains, it hails, Cold stormy morning.
In comes the farmer with a jug of cider.
You reap the oats, and I'll be the binder.
Now I've lost my true love, and where shall I find her?
Here we go, to and fro, Looking for to find her,
I have lost my true love, and where shall I find her?


One player lies stretched on the ground for granddaddy; another represents the tree, waves his hands for apples falling; another player outside the ring represents the old lady. "Granddaddy" jumps up and thumps her. The player who represents the old woman, the next time represents the old man.

Granddaddy is dead
and laid in his grave,
Laid in his grave,
laid in his grave,
Granddaddy is dead
and laid in his grave,
Oh, heigh oh!

There grew an old apple tree
Over his head
Over his head,
Over his head,
Oh heigh oh!

The apples got ripe and began to fall"
Then came an old woman
A picking them up,
A picking them up,
A picking them up.

And Granddaddy jumped up
And gave her a thump,
Gave her a thump,
Gave her a thump,
Oh heigh oh!

This ring game also appeared in The Southern Workman And Hampton School Record Vol. 21 which was published 1892.

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