Friday, March 6, 2015

1922 Jamaican Versions Of The Children's Song "Bingo"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides two versions of the children's song "Bingo" that are included in the 1922 book Folk-Games of Jamaica collected by Martha Warren Beckwith with music notated by Helen H. Roberts. One of those versions is titled "Ol Mudder Fibbie" ("Old Mother Fibia.") and the other is titled "Bingo".

The content of this post is provided for folkloric, cultural, historical, and aesthetic reasons.

All copyrights remains with their owners.

Thanks to the Jamaican children whose singing games are featured in this 1922 book. Thanks also to Martha Warren Beckwith and Helen H. Roberts for their field work and editing this book. Thanks also to those who published Folk-Games of Jamaica on the internet.

"Bingo", also known as "Bingo Was His Name-O" and "There Was a Farmer Who Had a Dog", is an English language children's song of obscure origin. In most modern forms, the song involves spelling the name of the dog, and with increasing letters replaced with handclaps on each repetition. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 589.

The earliest reference to any form of the song is from the title of a piece of sheet music published in 1780, which attributed the song to William Swords, an actor at the Haymarket Theatre of London.[2][3] Early versions of the song were variously titled "The Farmer's Dog Leapt o'er the Stile", "A Franklyn's Dogge", or "Little Bingo".

An early transcription of the song (without a title) dates from the 1785 songbook "The Humming Bird"...

The presence of the song in the United States was noted by Robert M. Charlton in 1842.[7] English folklorist Alice Bertha Gomme recorded eight forms in 1894. Highly-differing versions were recorded in Monton, Shropshire, Liphook and Wakefield, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire and Enborne. All of these versions were associated with children's games, the rules differing by locality.[8] Early versions of "Bingo" were also noted as adult drinking songs."...

These examples are given as found online, including the asterisks, with the exception of the citation of the source.

The words in parenthesis are the place names in Jamaica where the example was collected.

The notes given below the example are citations of other examples of similar songs.

Old Mother Fibbie

(I. (Christiana.)

Ol Mudder Fibbie, how happy you be
When you sit undah a juniper tree,

An' a juniper tree a you!
Come take dis hat an' keep yo' head wahm,
Couple o' kisses will do you no hahm,

Will do you no hahm a you.
B-i-n-g-o, B-i-n-g-o, B-i-n-g-o,

An' Bingo was his name.

One girl in the center of the ring goes about the circle shak-
ing a hat at each in turn, while all sing the first lines of the song.
At line four, she offers the hat to one of the players, leads her
within the circle and holds the hat over her head while she gives
her a kiss. The one chosen remains in the ring for the next

Old Mother Fibia, how happy we'll be,
When we meet a jollifer tree. . . .

This seems to be an American game-song, For references see Gardner (Michigan), JAFL 33, 107.

Folk-Games of Jamaica Collected by Martha Warren Beckwith with music recorded in the field by Helen H. Roberts, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1922, Example #48, page 59


(Christiana and Bethlehem.)

There was a farmer had a dog
And his name was Bobbie Bingo.
B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O, B-I-N-G-O,
And his name was Bobbie Bingo.

Players form a ring about one girl in the center who points
with a stick at each in turn while the song is sung in chorus. The
one at whom the song stops goes into the center for the next

Folk-Games of Jamaica Collected by Martha Warren Beckwith with music recorded in the field by Helen H. Roberts, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1922, Example #49, page 60
The notes for the next song in that book [#50, page 60] reads "The game is played like "Bingo" as a counting-out game." Here's that song:

One August Morn

d. (Christiana.)

I met a girl, I met a girl

Wid a bunch ob fruits.
I beg her one, I beg her one,

An' she gave me two ,
I know, I know, I know, I know,

Dat de girl was true.

In Bethlehem they sing, "I meet my love with a bunch of

44 Gomme I, 29; (Cornish), Folk-lore Journal 5, 58; Gardner (Michigan), JAFL
33, 93.

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