'Twas on a merry time,
When Jenny Wren was young,
So neatly as she danced,
And so sweetly as she sung,
Robin Redbreast lost his heart,
He was a gallant bird,
He doffed his cap to Jenny Wren,
Requesting to be heard.
"My dearest Jenny Wren,
If you will but be mine,
You shall dine on cherry pie,
And drink nice currant wine;
I'll dress you like a gold-finch,
Or like a peacock gay,
So if you'll have me, Jenny, dear,
Let us appoint the day."
Jenny blushed behind her fan
And thus declared her mind -
"So let it be to-morrow, Rob,
I'll take your offer kind;
Cherry pie is very good,
And so is currant wine,
But I will wear my plain brown gown,
And never dress too fine."
Robin Redbreast got up early,
All at the break of day,
He flew to Jenny Wren's house,
And sang a roundelay;
He sang of Robin Redbreast,
And pretty Jenny Wren,
And when he came unto the end,
He then began again.
Here's another version of this rhyme:
'Twas once upon a time, when Jenny Wren was young,
So daintily she danced and so prettily she sung,
Robin Redbreast lost his heart, for he was a gallant bird.
So he doffed his hat to Jenny Wren, requesting to be heard.
"Oh, dearest Jenny Wren, if you will but be mine,
You shall feed on cherry pie and drink new currant wine,
I'll dress you like a goldfinch or any peacock gay,
So, dearest Jen, if you'll be mine, let us appoint the day."
Jenny blushed behind her fan and thus declared her mind:
"Since, dearest Bob, I love you well, I'll take your offer kind.
Cherry pie is very nice and so is currant wine,
But I must wear my plain brown gown and never go too fine."
Photos & Illustrations
Thanks and Acknowledgements
The 1st illustration, score, tune, and the 1st version of the song come from The Baby's Opera by Walter Crane (1877). The second version of the song can be found in The Only True Mother Goose Melodies (published and copyrighted in Boston in 1833 by Munroe & Francis) and The Real Mother Goose (1916), illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright. The 2nd illustration is from Jacky Dandy's Delight by Jack Dandy (1799).