The perennially popular "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" was probably written by the English composer Thomas d'Urfey for his 1706 opera "The Kingdom of the Birds," though it may have existed in the folk tradition before this time. The version we know today, about a farmer and the various animals he keeps, was standardised in the twentieth century. Often taught to very young children, its hilarity, engendered especially by the impersonation of animal noises, makes it great fun for all ages!
LYRICS: Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O And on his farm he had a cow E-I-E-I-O With a moo moo here And a moo moo there Here a moo, there a moo Everywhere a moo moo Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O
"If You're Happy and You Know It" is a popular repetitive children's song. The song has been noted for its similarities to "Molodejnaya", a song appearing in the 1938 Soviet musical film "Volga-Volga." The origin of the melody is not known, but numerous sources trace it back to Spain, Latin America, Latvia or the United States of America. The participative nature of the song make it especially popular for teaching very young children.
LYRICS: If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap) If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap) If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands. (clap clap)
"Kum ba yah" is an African American spiritual song first recorded in the 1920s. It is though to have emerged in the Gullah speaking population in the Southeastern United States. More serious in mood than many standard campfire and Scouting songs, it nevertheless enjoyed broader popularity during the folk revival of the 1950s and 1960s.
LYRICS: Kum ba ya, my Lord, kum ba ya; Kum ba ya, my Lord, kum ba ya; Kum ba ya, my Lord, kum ba ya, O Lord, kum ba ya.
"She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" (also sometimes called simply "Coming 'Round the Mountain") is a traditional African-American folk song often categorized as children's music. It is a derivation of a "spiritual" song known as "When the Chariot Comes." It is popular as a campfire and Scouting song.
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes, when she comes She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes She’ll be coming ’round the mountain, She’ll be coming ’round the mountain She’ll be coming ’round the mountain when she comes.
"This Old Man" is an English language children's song, counting exercise and nursery rhyme. The origins of this song are obscure. The earliest extant record is a version noted in Anne Gilchrist's Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1937), learned from her Welsh nurse in the 1870s under the title "Jack Jintle"
LYRICS: This old man, he played one, He played knick-knack on my thumb; With a knick-knack paddywhack, Give a dog a bone, This old man came rolling home.
"I've Been Working on the Railroad" is an American folk song. The first published version appeared as "Levee Song" in Carmina Princetonia, a book of Princeton University songs published in 1894. The earliest known recording is by the Sandhills Sixteen, released by Victor Records in 1927.
LYRICS: I've been working on the railroad All the live-long day. I've been working on the railroad Just to pass the time away.
"The Other Day I Met a Bear" is a traditional American camp and Scouting echo song. The melody, written by Carey Morgan and Lee David in 1919 was originally written for a different set of lyrics "Sipping Cider Through a Straw."
LYRICS: The other day, (The other day,) I met a bear, (I met a bear,) A great big bear, (A great big bear,) A way out there! (A way out there!) The other day I met a bear, A great big bear a way out there.
A lyrical French folk song for more melancholic campfire moments. The words are from the perspective of a person bidding goodbye to a comrade, presumably fallen in battle. The singer bids that the Lord protect their friend and that the Virgin shows them "the way to the stars.'
LYRICS: Au revoir camarade, que le Seigneur te protège Sur la route où veillera ton ange. Que la Vierge te montre le chemin des étoiles Où nous nous retrouverons demain. Que la Vierge te montre le chemin des étoiles Où nous nous retrouverons demain.
"The Grand Old Duke of York" is an English folksong classic, so familiar as to have become a metaphor for futile action. Much debate has raged over the possible identity of the Duke of York, the most frequently suggested candidate being Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827), who was obliged to retreat when fighting the French during the Flanders Campaign of 1793–94. There also exist other versions of the song with other named characters, including the King of France and Napoleon Bonaparte, suggesting that the identity of the main protagonist was adaptable to any situation.
LYRICS: Oh, the grand old Duke of York, He had ten thousand men; He marched them up to the top of the hill, And he marched them down again.
Ging gang goolie is a gibberish song, widely spread around the world. It is popular among Scouts and Girl Guides, partly since the nonsense words allow it to be sung in international meetings where language barriers can be an issue, but mostly because it is a lot of fun.
LYRICS: Ging gang goolie goolie goolie goolie watcha, Ging gang goo, ging gang goo.
"Chevaliers de la Table Ronde" is a drinking song popular in French speaking parts of Canada, Belgium, France and other Francophone countries. Despite, or more probably because of the adult nature of the lyrics, it has also become popular in Scouting troops in French speaking counties.
LYRICS: Chevaliers de la table ronde, Goûtons voir si le vin est bon; x2 Goûtons voir, oui, oui, oui, Goûtons voir, non, non, non, Goûtons voir si le vin est bon x2
The lyrical "Chant de la Promesse" was composed by the priest Jacques Sevin for the French Scouting movement. Through it a scout or group of scouts promise to be faithful to God and to their country. Sevin was a key figure in the scouting movement, founding the Scouts de France in 1920 and writing the book "Le Scoutisme.'
LYRICS: Devant tous je m'engage Sur mon honneur, Et je te fais hommage De moi, Seigneur !
"Ten in the Bed" is a counting song of uncertain origin. Its comic scenario and infectious infectious melody has not only made it popular for teaching very young children to count, but also around campfires and amongst Scouts and Girl Guides. There exist two versions of the song, one which ends at "So they all rolled over and one fell out" before repeating and this one, which includes the refrain "Please remember to tie a knot in your pyjamas..."
LYRICS: There were ten in the bed And the little one said, "Roll over, roll over" So they all rolled over and one fell out. He hit the floor and gave a shout: “Please remember, to tie a knot in your pyjamas, Single beds are only made for…”
"You'll Never Get to Heaven" is a humourous call and response campfire and Scouting song. It describes the various comical ways a person is unlikely to get to heaven, including on an"old Ford car" on a "biscuit tin" and on "water skis." The exact lyrics are by no means fixed, with improvised verses encouraged!
LYRICS: Oh, you’ll never get to Heaven on a boy scout’s knee 'Cause a boy scout’s knee’s too knobbly. Refrain: I ain’t gonna grieve my Lord no more.
"Fire's Burning" is a US campfire song that derives from the English folksong "London's Burning." Both are rounds, their tunes being identical until the final phrase. The British folksong is thought to be about the 1666 Great Fire of London, which led to the destruction of the medieval part of the city including old St. Paul's Cathedral.
LYRICS: Fire’s burning, fire’s burning, Draw nearer, draw nearer, In the gloaming, in the gloaming, Come sing and be merry.