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Frog Went a-Courtin' -or- A Frog He Would a-Wooin' Go

 Sources of verses in the compilation and links to associated tunes
 
    Verses not identified with a reference below are from The Marriage of the Frogge and the Mouse, Complete text from Melismata - Musicall Phansies Fitting the Court, Citie, and Countrey, To 3, 4, and 5 Voyces. (London, 1611). These verses go with the 1611 tune .

    1 - collected by Byron Arnold, from Callie Craven, Gadsden Alabama, November 26, 1946. These verses go with tune B.

    2 - from a Kentucky and Virginia version (with additions by L.W. Payne), from Payne's Publication No. 5 of the Texas Folklore Society. Tune C is associated with the verses from this publication.

    3 - from Rise Up Singing (Sing Out, 1992), which credits numerous recordings for these verses.

    4 - found in 150 American Folk Songs, collected by Katalin Komlos (Boosey&Hawkes, 1974). The source of the verses is not listed.

    5 - found in The Golden Song Book (Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1981). In this book, Ednah P.C. Hayes was credited with providing these words to "A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go".

    6 - published in Wee Sing Fun 'N Folk (1989 by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp; Price Stern Sloan, Inc.). The tune in this book is said by the editors to be English, circa 1580, with no source of this information given. Tune D is the tune I learned as a child in Kentucky and is similar to the tune in "Wee Sing...", the only significant difference being in the "sword and a pistol" measure and some repeated measures in the version I learned.

    7 - from the recorded collection "The Essential Doc Watson" (Vanguard Records, 1986).

    8 - from a recording by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax in the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music, as sung by Ethel Bryant Niemeyer, Evansville, Indiana, in 1938. Ms. Niemeyer reportedly learned the song from her mother, Dora.

    9 - provided by Karen Kaplan. Compiled from variants included in "Songs of Animals and other Marvels" from the record series called The Folk Songs of Britain (editors Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax - Topic Records 12T198). The editors cite four sources (S. Baring-Gould & H. Fleetwood-Sheppard, A Garland of Country Song, London 1895; Alfred Williams, Folk-Songs of the Upper Thames, London, 1923; and Journal of the Folk Song Society, continued as Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, London 1899 onward).

    10 - found in The Melody Book (Prentice Hall, 1983).

    11 - reportedly from a recording by Burl Ives, found in the Digital Tradition database (now MudCat).

    12 - from A Frog He Would a-Wooing Go (F. Warne, 1895). This version contains a refrain significantly different from most other sources I've run across. I've included this refrain in the compiliation only in it's first occurance, and it's associated tune is included as tune E. I have yet to determine who Anthony Rowley is, referred to in this refrain.

    13 - found in Sing a Tune (Informal Music, 1961).

    14 - from Making Music Your Own (Silver Burdett, 1964).

    15 (A & B) - from Early One Morning (Recording by the Ionian Singers, Continuum, 1992). This recording includes two versions, one (referenced as 15A) which opens with text similar to the 1611 publication, but has a refrain (included in the first occurance in the compilation of verses from this source) which I have not seen in other sources. The other (referenced as 15B) has a refrain similar to that in 12 above.

    16 - from Songs of a Grandmother a collection of tunes as sung by Agnes Minturn Gilbert (J. Church, 1909).

    17 - from the LP Brave Boys; New England traditions in folk music (New World Records 239, 1977). The version in this recording is sung by Mrs. Gail Stoddard Storm, and was reportedly handed down through her family, which has resided in the eastern shore area of Massachusetts since the first English settlers at Plymouth.

    18 - from Frog Went a-Courtin' retold by John Langstaff (Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1955). Mr. Langstaff states that "we do know it was written down in Scotland over 400 years ago." The source of this claim is not given. Langstaff reports that he compiled his version from from numerous sources and the tune he uses is one sung by children in the southern Appalachians.

    19 - Gary Chalk adds his own twist to the ballad (Mr. Frog Went a-Courting; Discover the Secret Story, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1994) when he weaves a tale around the song. In his tale, Mr. Frog went a-courtin' while leaving his fiance (Miss Frog) behind. Miss Frog gets revenge when her friend and protector, Mr. Dog, convinces the big gray cat to crash the wedding party, thus chasing the frog, rat, and mouse into the lake, where they are swallowed by the now famous "big black snake." Chalk then adds the following two verses: "And now begins another tale, Of the other frog, a young female; Who took revenge on Mr. Frog. Will she now marry Captain Dog?" I have not included these two verses in the compilation because 1) they are recent creations intended to enhance Chalk's storyline and, 2) these two verses appear out of place in the ballad since neither Miss Frog nor Mr. Dog are mentioned in any other version or elsewhere in Chalk's version of the ballad.

    20 - Sung by Woodie Guthrie in the collection Southern Mountain Hoedown (Stinson Collectors Series, Collectables Records, 1994).

    21 - From an odd little book titled The Baby's Opera, A Book of Old Rhymes With New Dresses by Walter Crane (George Routledge and Sons, date unknown). The text of this version is almost identical to the 1611 publication. The tune is similar to tune F. This book is a collection of children's songs and, as stated on the cover, contains "The Music By The Earliest Masters." The style and illustrations of this book suggest a pre-1900 publication.

    22 - Scottish ballad called "Puddy and Mouse." Verses from various sources found in the Digital Tradition database (now MudCat).

    23 - From The Songs We Sang: A Treasury of American Popular Music by Theodore Raph (A.S. Barnes and Company, 1964).

    24 - American Ballads and Folk Songs, John A. and Alan Lomax (MacMillan and Company, 1934).

    25 - Word of mouth and anonymous internet forum postings.

    26 - From Crawdads, Doodlebugs, and Creasy Greens, Doug Elliot (Mel Bay Publications, Inc., 1997).

    27 - From Traditional American Folk Songs, Warner and Warner, Collected from Lena Bourne Fish, NH, 1941

    28 - From A Song for Ireland, Mary O'Hara, (c) 1982, Michael Joseph Limited, London

 

 

updated - 1/15/2000 (added source 24), 6/12/2000 (added Refrain page and link to 1611 source)

updated - June 17, 2000 (added verses and refrains from source 25)

updated - June 8, 2001 (added verses from source 26)

updated - July 22, 2001 (restored ending verses from compilation which were inadvertently deleted in earlier update)

 Last updated - Sept. 21, 2004 (added sources 27 and 28)

 

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