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May 09 2017

The Shocking Lyrics of Lavender’s Blue

Sometimes you run into some really interesting bits when you fall down the research rabbit hole. Not infrequently, the delicious little tidbits don’t fit the story you’re trying to write, but they deserve to be shared nonetheless. Here’s the latest offering.


So, picture the scene: I was just minding my own business, looking for a song my character might sing during a particularly emotional scene. (Sorry guys, no more spoilers than that, but you’ll know it when you see it!) Scrolling through some familiar titles of lullabies and nursery songs when WOW–did I just read that? Absolutly shocking lyrics that I can hardly believe are there. I mean seriously, this is a nursery type song I sang as a kid! Albeit it, without THOSE utterly shocking lyrics.

(Just an aside here, keep in mind I’m researching lyrics from in Regency era, so we’re talking shocking for 1812, not shocking for 2017–but still…)

Unfortunately for my readers–and my poor characters–the song was not at all appropriate for the scene. I am sure they (and probably you) would have rather it had been. But it was too juicy a piece of research to keep to myself. So here it is, they lyrics to:

Lavender’s Blue

Lavender’s blue, diddle diddle
Lavender’s green,
When I am king, diddle diddle
You shall be queen.

Lavender’s green, diddle diddle
Lavender’s blue,
You must love me, diddle diddle
‘Cause I love you.

Down in the vale, diddle diddle
Where flowers grow,
And the birds sing, diddle diddle
All in a row.

A brisk young man, diddle diddle
Met with a maid,
And laid her down, diddle diddle
Under the shade.

There they did play, diddle diddle
And kiss and court.
All the fine day, diddle diddle
Making good sport.

I’ve heard them say, diddle diddle
Since I came hither
That you and I, diddle diddle
Might lie together.

Therefore be kind, diddle diddle
While here we lie,
And you will love, diddle diddle
My dog and I.

For you and I, diddle diddle
Now all are one,
And we will lie, diddle diddle
No more alone.

Lavender’s blue, diddle diddle
Lavender’s green,
Let me be king, diddle diddle
You be the queen.

Lavender’s green, diddle diddle
Lavender’s blue,
You must love me, diddle diddle
‘Cause I love you.


Surprised? I certainly was. The song dates back to the late 1600’s, printed first as a broadsheet  titled “Diddle Diddle Or, The Kind Country Lovers.” In 1805 is was included in Songs for the Nursery sans about 9 verses!

Oh, and for those who will remind me that ‘diddle’ is a word with sexual connotations, those were not recorded until 1879, according to dictionary.com. Perhaps these lyrics helped establish that connotation? Hmmmm, interesting thought.

You can hear the music for this song and learn more about it and other songs HERE.

I guess you really never know where you’ll end up when you fall down the research rabbit hole!

9 comments

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  1. Glynis

    Oh dear. Luckily when I sang it to my children I only knew the first two verses!
    I don’t know your storyline but are you sure it wouldn’t have been appropriate 😂😂?

    1. Maria Grace

      Not appropriate for the scene, but the characters would definitely have liked it better.

  2. StephanieL

    We had a very different version around when I was a kid…I looked it up with what I remember and the lyrics are below. There was a Christian version too but I don’t remember it. I do find it very funny that diddle got changed to dilly….amongst other things. Oh the rabbit holes. I hope you did find some acceptable music though for your scene!

    Lavender blue, dilly dilly,
    Lavender green
    When you are king, dilly dilly,
    I shall be queen

    Who told you so, dilly dilly,
    Who told you so?
    ‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly,
    That told me so

    Call up your friends, dilly, dilly
    Set them to work
    Some to the plough, dilly dilly,
    Some to the fork

    Some to the hay, dilly dilly,
    Some to thresh corn
    Whilst you and I, dilly dilly,
    Keep ourselves warm

    Lavender blue, dilly dilly,
    Lavender green
    When you are king, dilly dilly,
    I shall be queen

    Who told you so, dilly dilly,
    Who told you so?
    ‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly,
    That told me so.

    1. Maria Grace

      Sounds a great deal like the version I learned as a child too! I did find some proper music for the scene, though, thanks!

  3. Caroline

    An interesting aside, I used to play darts at my local bar in Chicago. To see who went first, one had to “diddle for the middle.” That meant that who ever shot their dart closest to the bullseye (the middle) went first. Hmmm.

    1. Maria Grace

      Hmmmm indeed!

  4. Caroline Warfield

    Dog?? Goodness!

    1. Maria Grace

      I had the same thought!

  5. Sheila L. Majczan

    And I see Burl Ives in my head as he sang this song. I know of it but never sang it to my children. I did sing many other songs though: Thank Heaven for Little Girls, An Irish Lullaby, You are my Sunshine, Hush, Little Baby, Bye Baby Bunting and the Beatles’ Do You Want to Know a Secret, etc.

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