“Who Did Swallow Jonah?”


"Who did (x4), Who did swallow Jo-Jo-Jonah?... Who did swallow Jonah down?" "Whale did... swallow Jonah whole." "Noah in the arky... bailed." "Daniel... in the lion's den." "David... killed Goliath."


This may actually be two songs; I have a recording by the Brandy Snifters claiming to derive their piece from two 78s, "Daniel in the Den of Lions" by the North Carolina Cooper Boys and "The Whale Did, I Know He Did" by Mustard and Gravy. The verses of this collated version, however, are almost all found in the Folksinger's Wordbook text, though with differences in order. Pending more examples, I'm treating the piece as a unity.

The story of the fish (NOT a whale!) which swallowed Jonah is related in Jonah 2. The Hebrews in the fiery furnace ("Shadrack, Meshak, Abindigo" -- all misspelled, be it noted) are a reference to Daniel 3. The story of Noah and the Ark (actually two stories collated) is in Genesis 6-8. David and Goliath (again, two stories collated) occupy 1 Samuel 17. - RBW

Listening to "Daniel in the Den of Lions," it's clearly the same song as, "Who Did Swallow Jonah?" - PJS

But that still leaves the mystery of "The Whale Did, I Know He Did." - RBW

I'd guess that "The Whale Did" is essentially the same song, with the title changed. - PJS

Cross references


  • Fisk University Jubilee Quartette, "Peter on the Sea" (Edison Amberol 978, 1912)
  • Mustard and Gravy, "The Whale Did, I Know He Did" (Bluebird B-7905, 1938)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Daniel in the Den of Lions" (on NLCR16)
  • North Carolina Cooper Boys, "Daniel in the Den of Lions" (OKeh 45174, 1927; on CrowTold02)
  • Utica Institute Jubilee Singers, "Peter on the Sea" (Victor 21925, 1929)


  1. MHenry-Appalachians, p. 196, "Jonah and the Whale" (1 text)
  2. BrownIII 346, "Jonah and the Whale" (6 texts and/or fragments, but only the "D" and "E" texts and the "F" fragment are this piece; "A" and "B" are "Jonah and the Whale (Living Humble)" and "C" is "Hide Away")
  3. Silber-FSWB, p. 386, "Who Did Swallow Jonah" (1 text)
  4. BI, FSWB386B


Alternate titles: “Daniel in the Den of Lions”; “The Whale Did, I Know He Did”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1912 (recording, Fisk University Jubilee Quartette)
Found in: US(Ap,SE)