This song is first seen written down in the middle of the fifteenth century...

I Had Four Brothers Over the Sea - English Children's Songs - England - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

*The last two lines of each verse are in Latin.

*****

Here's another version of this song that can be found in The Nursery Rhyme Book, edited by Andrew Lang and illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1897):

My true love lives far from me,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.
Many a rich present he sends to me,
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

He sent me a goose without a bone;
He sent me a cherry without a stone.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

He sent me a Bible no man could read;
He sent me a blanket without a thread.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

How could there be a goose without a bone?
How could there be a cherry without a stone?
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

How could there be a Bible no man could read?
How could there be a blanket without a thread?
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

When the goose is in the egg-shell, there is no bone;
When the cherry is in the blossom, there is no stone.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

When the Bible is in the press no man it can read;
When the wool is on the sheep's back, there is no thread.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

Here's a slightly different version from the one at the top of the page. This one is from The Little Mother Goose (1912), illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith:

I had four brothers over the sea.
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.
And they each sent a present unto me,
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

The first sent a chicken, without any bones;
The second sent a cherry, without any stones,
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

The third sent a book, which no man could read;
The fourth sent a blanket, without any thread.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

How could there be a chicken without any bones?
How could there be a cherry without any stones?
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

How could there be a book which no man could read?
How could there be a blanket without a thread?
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

When the chicken's in the egg-shell, there are no bones,
When the cherry's in the blossom, there are no stones.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

When the book's in ye press no man it can read;
When the wool is on the sheep's back, there is no thread.
Petrum, Partrum, Paradise, Temporie,
Perrie, Merrie, Dixie, Dominie.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

The illustration and this version of the rhyme are from The Baby's Bouquet, A Fresh Bunch of Rhymes and Tunes by Walter Crane (1878).

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