“Hunt the Wren”


"Let's go to the wood, said Robin-the-Bobbin, Let's go to the wood, said Richard to Robin. Let's go to... said John Tullane, Let's go to... said everyone." They hunt, kill, and eat the wren, and argue over disposing of the body


Many have identified this song with "Billy Barlow," "Cricketty Wee," or (especially) "The Cutty Wren," but while the form is similar, and in the latter case even the subject is the same, the plot is distinct enough that the Index splits them.

In some cases, e.g. the Kennedy text, I'll admit this is doubtful, but some of the Digital Tradition texts are more distinct, and even pick up pieces of "The Wren (The King)." In another Digital Tradition text (HNTWRN2), the plot doesn't even involve a wren; it's just a bunch of kids(?) finding a bird's next; that one seems to have some "Billy Barlow" in its ancestry (or, more likely, the reverse).

For a little information, and a lot of speculation, on the history of wrenning, see the notes to "The Wren (The King)." - RBW

Cross references


  • Jack Elliott, "Billy the Bob" (on Elliotts01)


  1. Kennedy 78, "Helg yn Dreean [Hunt the Wren]" (1 Manx Gaelic text+translation, 1 tune, plus fragments and a text of "The Cutty Wren" in the notes)
  2. LPound-ABS, 117, pp. 235-236, "Let's Go to the Woods" (1 text)
  3. Linscott, pp. 230-233, "Let's Go to the Woods or The Hunting of the Wren" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Opie-Oxford2 447, "We will go to the wood, says Robin to Bobbin" (1 text)
  5. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #29, p. 41-44, "(We will go to the Wood)"
  6. Montgomerie-ScottishNR 16, "The Hunting of the Wren" (1 text)
  8. Roud #236
  9. BI, K078


Alternate titles: “Robin-the-Bobbin”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: c. 1744 (Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, Volume II)
Found in: Britain(Scotland(Bord),Wales) US(NE)