Go Baa and Black: “Baa Baa Black Sheep” for Generations
A nursery song that is loved, sung and endured for many generations and across the world, "Baa Baa Black Sheep" is a constant song by children in many preschools and at home.
It is astounding that "Baa Baa Black Sheep" has existed for so long. The first recorded version of this nursery was from 1731. From the original version to the most modern one, the text is mostly intact and only a few words were dropped or changed. The tune for this nursery rhyme is alike to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and the "Alphabet Song". The three songs share a melody, derived from a 17th-century French nursery rhyme Ah! vous dirai-je, maman (Oh! Shall I tell you, Mummy in English). Like many old nursery rhymes, the title of the nursery song is also the first line.
The rhyme's first publication was in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book. The book is the oldest surviving collection of English language nursery rhymes and published in 1744. Meanwhile, the words and melody of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" were first published by A. H. Rosewig. It appeared in the (Illustrated National) Nursery Songs and Games (1879).
The meaning behind this nursery rhyme has been uncertain, and many people have theorized its origins. Some say it is a song of complaint against the taxes levied on the wool trade in medieval England. In modern times, it was the center of debate whether it was a song against political correctness. The character in the nursery rhyme, the black sheep, is also used as a metaphor. It is an idiom describing a disreputable, odd or wayward child or any member of a group, usually in a family.
Like its meaning, the creator and writer of this nursery rhyme are lost in time. However, people of all ages and many generations have first encountered the adventures and work of a black sheep using this enduring nursery rhyme.