“Baa Baa Black Sheep”


"Baa baa, black sheep, have you any wool?" The sheep replies that it does, and details what might be done with it


Although the lyrics of this are older than "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and indeed are older than the oldest known form of the music ("Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman," published 1761), text and tune, according to Fuld, were not united until 1879.

The 1881 sheet music credits this to C. M. Wiske, but I would suspect that is the arrangement. The 1871 sheet music is credited to Charles Moulton, but it's a different tune (don't ask me why everyone suddenly got the idea to set this to be music)

According to the Baring-Goulds, Katherine Elwes Thomas (who could always be relied upon to find expansive explanations when simple ones would do) reads this as a complaint against the exactions of the English royalty and nobility. - RBW

Cross references


  • LOCSheet, sm1871 10570, "Baa, baa, black sheep," G. D. Russell & Co (Boston), 1871; sm1881 04227, "Ba-a, ba-a, black sheep," Geo. Molineux? (unknown), 1881 (tune)


  1. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #16, p. 33, "(Bah, Bah a black Sheep)"
  2. Opie-Oxford2 55, "Baa, baa, black sheep" (1 text)
  3. Fuld-WFM, pp. 593-594, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star -- (ABCDEFG; Baa, Baa, Black Sheep; Schnitzelbank)"
  4. Roud #4439
  5. BI, BGMG016


Author: unknown
Earliest date: c. 1744 (Tom Thumb's Pretty Song Book)
Found in: US