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Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Nursery Rhyme Lyrics, Origins and History

 

The Nursery Rhyme, or Prayer 'Matthew, Mark, Luke and John' can be traced back to 1655 (publication 1656) when the words were quoted in a in a book called 'A Candle in the Dark' by the Humanitarian and writer John Ady. The words of the second line differ from those in the Children's poem:

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
The bed be blest that I lie on.

John Ady wrote a book called 'A Perfect Discovery of Witches' which was published in 1661 and sold by H. Brome at the Gun in Ivy-Lane, London. In this book John Ady courageously addressed the notorious Witch Hunts and Witchfinders of the era. He questioned the blame attached to witches by incompetent Physicians when they failed to heal a patient and the general responsibility placed on witches for any unexplainable catastrophes such as storms, drought, illness and diseases. The blame on witches, he argued, was to disguise the ignorance of the people in power. His book was addressed as follows:

"A Treatise Concerning the Nature of Witches & Witchcraft: Being Advice to Judges, Sheriffes, Justices of the Peace, and Grand-Jury-men, what to do, before they passe Sentence on such as are Arraigned for their Lives as Witches"

Reference has been made to the hysteria and Witchfinders of this period, especially Matthew Hopkins and the Identity of Mother Goose, but it is important to also balance this by mention of the brave men who spoke against the witch hunts such as John Ady and including Cornelius Loos, Johann Weyer, Reginald Scot and the Duke of Brunswick.

 
 
 
Picture of condemned Witch, Mary Dyer
 
 
 

Picture of condemned Witch, Mary Dyer,
going to her execution in Boston 1660

   
 

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Guard the bed that I lie on:
Four corners to my bed
Four angels round my head,
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

 

Note: A Rhymes lyrics and the perceived origins of some Nursery Rhymes vary according to location

 

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Written By Linda Alchin