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Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins

There was a Jolly Miller

Nursery Rhyme Lyrics, Origins and History

 

The Nursery Rhyme "There was a Jolly Miller" is a poem about the life and times of a proud man who was a Miller. The Rhyme contains words and phrases such as "I do not fear next Quarter-day - in debt to none I be" and "doit" that are no longer used in Modern times

What was a Quarter-Day?
This expression dates back to the Middle Ages during which time most land was rented. The lords of the land received money from renting their land and this money was due to be paid on a quarterly basis. To ensure that the common folk remembered the rent days they were cleverly associated with special days in the Church calendar. This Quarter Day tradition of paying rent led to the custom of paying other debts on the same days. The English Quarter-days were as follows:

  • Lady Day, March 25th - Feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary

  • Midsummer Day, June 24th - Feast of St John the Baptist

  • Michaelmas Day, September 29th - Feast of St. Michael the Archangel

  • Christmas Day, December 25th - Feast of the Birth of Jesus

What was a "Doit"?
A 'Doit' was small Dutch coin, worth about half a farthing, a similar small coin was once used in Scotland hence, any thing of small value was referred to as "I care not a doit."

Help us to maintain our history and heritage through the words and lyrics of old Nursery Rhymes like 'There was a jolly miller'

 
 
 
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There was a Jolly Miller
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

There was a jolly miller once
Lived on the river Dee ;
He work'd and sang from morn till night,
No lark more blithe than he.
And this the burden of his aong
Forever used to be
I care for nobody, no, not I,
If nobody cares for me.

The reason why he was so blithe,
He once did thus unfold
The bread I eat my hands have earn'd;
I covet no man's gold ;
I do not fear next quarter-day;
In debt to none I be.
I care for nobody, no, not I,
If nobody cares for me.

A coin or two I've in my purse,
To help a needy friend ;
A little I can give the poor,
And still have some to spend.
Though I may fail, yet I rejoice,
Another's good hap to see.
I care for nobody, no, not I,
If nobody cares for me.

So let us his example take,
And be from malice free;
Let every one his neighbour serve,
As served he'd like to be.
And merrily push the can about
And drink and sing with glee;
If nobody cares a doit for us,
Why not a doit care we.

There was a Jolly Miller
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