“Old Mother Hubbard”


"Old Mother Hubbard Went to the cupboard To get her poor dog a bone, But when she got there The cupboard was bare And so the poor dog had none." Additional verses tell of Mother Hubbard's efforts for the dog and how almost all fail


This is probably only a nursery *rhyme*, and not a nursery *song*, and so properly does not belong in the Index. But Tony and Irene Saletan recorded it as part of their version of "Hail to Britannia" (which includes many nursery rhymes), so it does have a musical tradition of sorts.

In addition, though most of us hear only one verse of this, the Baring-Gould text is 14 stanzas long, though many of the stanzas are silly:

She went to the tailors

To buy him a coat,

But when she came back

He [the dog, note] was riding a goat.

Still, there is a plot in the early stanzas. The whole looks like a song, if an absurd one. - RBW

Opie-Oxford2: "It is now clear that the first three verses of Sarah Catherine Marin's 'Old Mother Hubbard' were taken from tradition, and that her contribution was to write eleven more verses, and to illustrate the whole. The first three verses had appeared in sheet-music form as one of Dr Samuel Arnold's _Juvenile Amusements_ (1797), and were certainly not new then." - BS


  1. Opie-Oxford2 365, "Old Mother Hubbard" (1 text)
  2. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #134, pp. 111-113, "(Old Mother Hubbard)"
  3. cf. DT, MERRYLND
  4. BI, BGMG134


Author: unknown
Earliest date: before 1797 (cf. Baring-Gould-MotherGoose)