In this song, the singer can choose when to sing the chorus. Some people sing it after each verse, some sing it after every 2 or 3 verses and some people don't sing it at all.

Il était un petit navire - French Children's Songs - France - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

We found another version in an old American book (Beginners' French reader, by Peter J. Scherer, Yonkers-on-Hudson, New York, World Book Company, 1919). As the title foretells, the story finishes badly.

Histoire navrante d'un petit navire

1. Il était un petit navire,
Il était un petit navire,
Qui n'avait ja-ja-jamais navigué,
Qui n'avait ja-ja-jamais navigué.

2. Il partit pour un long voyage,
Il partit pour un long voyage,
Sur les cô-cô-côtes de Guinée,
Sur les cô-cô -côtes de Guinée.
.
Au bout de cinq à six semaines,
Au bout de cinq à six semaines,
Les vivres vin-vin-vinrent à manquer,
Les vivres vin-vin-vinrent à manquer.

On tira-z-à la courte paille,
On tira-z-à la courte paille,
Pour savoir qui-qui-qui serait mangé,
Pour savoir qui-qui-qui serait mangé.

5. Le sort tomba sur le plus jeune,
Le sort tomba sur le plus jeune,
Qui n'avait ja-ja-jamais navigué,
Qui n'avait ja-ja-jamais navigué.

6. Il monta à la grande hune,
Il monta à la grande hune,
Et vit la mer, mer, mer de tous côtés,
Et vit la mer, mer, mer de tous côtés.

7. Oh ! Sainte Vierge, ma patronne,
Oh ! Sainte Vierge, ma patronne,
C'est donc moi qui, qui, qui serai mangé,
C'est donc moi qui, qui, qui serai mangé.

8. On le mangea-z-à la sauce blanche,
On le mangea-z-à la sauce blanche,
Avec des sal-sal salsifis mal cuits,
Avec des sal-sal salsifis mal cuits.

9. Si cette histoire vous amuse,
Si cette histoire vous amuse,
Nous allons la, la, la laisser de côté,
Nous allons la, la, la laisser de côté.

10. Si cette histoire vous embête,
Si cette histoire vous embête,
Nous allons la, la, la recommencer,
Nous allons la, la, la recommencer.

English Translation:

Distressing Story of a Little Ship


1. There was a little ship,
There was a little ship
That never had sailed
That never had sailed.

2. It began a long journey,
It began a long journey
Along the Guinea coasts,
Along the Guinea coasts.

3. After five or six weeks,
After five or six weeks
The food ran short,
The food ran short.

4. They drew straws,
They drew straws
To find out who would be eaten,
To find out who would be eaten.

5. It fell to the youngest,
It fell to the youngest
Who had never sailed,
Who had never sailed.

6. He climbed up the main topsail
He climbed up the main topsail
And saw the sea all around,
And saw the sea all around.

7. O Holy Virgin, o, my lady,
O Holy Virgin, o, my lady
It's then me who'll be eaten,
It's then me who'll be eaten.

8. They ate him with a white sauce,
They ate him with a white sauce,
Along with undercooked salsifies*,
Along with undercooked salsifies.

9. If this story entertains you,
If this story entertains you,
We'll put it aside,
We'll put it aside.

10. If this story annoys you,
If this story annoys you,
We'll start it all over again,
We'll start it all over again.

*Salsify is an edible plant in the daisy family.

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Many thanks to Tiphaine Woerth for recording this song for Mama Lisa's World.

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Sheet Music

Sheet Music - Il était un petit navire

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Jade Kite for contributing this song and to Monique Palomares for the English translation.

Image: "Petit Larousse illustré: nouveau dictionnaire encyclopédique" (1906).

Merci!

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