Can Anyone Help with a Russian Folk Song?

Kim wrote asking for help with a Russian song.  Here’s her email:

I believe this is a Russian folk song I learned at school many years ago.  I am unable to remember the last verse, but I do remember the tune.  I would appreciate any help to fill in the blanks  I believe it ends with, "Darling little Miishka!" or something similar.

Great Website!!


If you can help, please let us know in the comments below.


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 at 10:29 am and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Folk Songs, Languages, Questions, Russia, Russian, Russian Children's Songs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

26 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Russian Folk Song?”

  1. Hana Says:

    Are you looking for these rhymes?

    С. Маршак. Сказка об умном мышонке:

    Сказка о глупом мышонке 1940:

  2. Olga Says:

    Maybe it is bear’s lullaby?

  3. Pat Habisohn Says:

    I too am looking for a children’s Russian folk song. I know some of the lyrics. The chorus goes ” balalaikas cry cheeks grow red and sashes fly. Also “three steps forward Russian children love to dance. I learned this song in school in Chicago in the 50’s. can’t find it anywhere. I believe it was called ” song of the Cossacks”

  4. Lisa Says:

    We have a Cossack Lullaby here. But I don’t think that’s the song you’re looking for… check it out and see.

  5. John D Says:

    I know the song but can’t come up with it all, but here are some more words:

    From the barnyard, From the Barnyard, polkas sound on summer nights. In the Meadow, In the Meadow, Fireflies hang yellow lights!
    Bal-a-laikas cry, cheeks grow red and sashes fly. Girls wear crimson boots, boys wear blouses with their suits.

  6. Lisa Says:

    Thanks John! Would you be able to help with the tune?

  7. Vaughn Says:

    LOL, this song has been on my mind for a while now…I remembered the chorus and can sing the melody, and really appreciate John D adding a few more lyrics at the beginning…but I’d love to hear this song again (also from my childhood!)…Everyone keeps saying that all human knowledge is on the internet now, but somehow this song seems to be missing…

  8. Sabrina Says:

    I’m a bit late to the party, but I do remember the song being referred to. I learned it when I was in parochial school in Cleveland. Early 1975 (but in a defacto 1950s neighborhood lol). Had no idea it was Russian. I assumed it was Polish. The 3d verse I remember it going From the barnyard, from the barnyard, polka sounds on summer night. In the meadows, in the meadows, fireflies hang their yellow lights. Three steps and a hop. On they dance and cannot stop. Day breaks on a hill. and the crowds are dancing still! Hopefully, someone who has a better memory will provide verses 1 and 2. I remember the line about ‘boys wear blouses with their suits.” Used to make me laugh because only girls wear blouses. Boys wear shirts.

  9. Sabrina Says:

    Just a thought: The song is a bit strange in a way. it mentions “polka sounds on summer nights” but yet the lyrics also mention a balalaikas. Balilakas don’t generally figure in polka music (and there are about 6 subgenres in that style of music). The line of ‘girls wear crimsom boots’ gave me an idea. I googled, and found an entry at Wikipedia about Carpatho-Rusyns. There’s a lovely picture there of a dance group and sure enough the gals are wearing red boots with their native garb, and the boys are wearing a “blouse-ey” looking shirt with loose pant…and they have on sashes! So that leads me to believe the song is not of Russian origin but of Carpatho-Rusyn (Ruthenian) origin and is probably closer to Ukrainian, Slovak or Polish heritage. At any rate, i’ve put out a call at my facebook to see if anyone else remembers the song and if so to post lyrics. Let’s ‘get-er’ done’ lol :)

  10. Sabrina Says:

    Well, here I am again. In my obsession with finding that song, I went to amazon and ordered all of the music books I had from 3rd through 8th grade. Got them all this past week. Went through the books with a fine toothed comb. Sadly I couldn’t find that particular song. Looks like it remains a mystery…for now. Not giving up yet lol

  11. Jane Says:

    I remember something like “step, step, step, hop
    Step, step, step, hop, Russian people love to dance.
    Three steps forward, three steps ?? then a kind of hop and ??
    Then came the “balalaikas cry, cheeks go red etc.”

  12. Jane Says:

    I also learned this song in Catholic elementary school in a suburb of Philadelphia. Looks like, maybe, it was part of the music curriculum. I also remember a song about Copenhagen. Lyrics mentioned that it was “?? Star of the sea, once I went away, now I’m here to stay, singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful, Copenhagen for me”

    Maybe the nuns taught us songs about various places in the world.

  13. Linda Says:

    I was just thinking about this song and decided to see if I could find it. The only lyrics I could remember were: “step step step hop, step step step hop, Russian people people love to dance,” (then blanking on the next line, then:) “dance dance heel and toe, then repeat the dance just so, girls wear crimson boots, boys wear blouses with their suits.” I learned it in grade school at an Iowa public school in the 1950s. A few years ago I heard the tune and thought, I know that song!, but don’t recall where I heard it. I have a big collection of Ukrainian, Carpatho-Rusyn and Russian records, so it’s possible it was on one of those records, I’m thinking maybe one of the Carpatho-Rusyn ones, but not sure, and don’t have a turntable hooked up at this time so can’t take a listen. This website is the only reference I have found on the internet that includes these lyrics. And now I’ve learned a few more :-) Although I’m guessing the lyrics are likely a very loose translation of the original. With others recalling it, I’m surprised no further trace has appeared to date.

  14. Nickelen Says:

    Hi – i am also looking for a Russian folksong learnt at primary school in English – a sad one as I remember the singer describes their love and the countryside and the song ends ‘is lying by the Volga dead’ :(
    Beautiful music though!
    Can anyone help please?
    Thank you!

  15. Daniel Kordiak Says:

    WOW! Here I thought I was the only one who never forgot PARTS of this song! Gotta love the internet on a good day. I must have learned it in Minneapolis in my parochial grade school in the 60s? Born in 55. Anyway, thanks for the help. I remember only the parts mentioned here so Im no help to you. I love the commitment to the cause here and best of luck to everyone here in finding it. It must be in Russian on the Russian speaking internet. I would hope something that was loved by so many would not be lost forever.

  16. Mame Says:

    So strange…parts of this song were running thru my head today-out of nowhere to the point I felt the need to google the verse I knew. It was taught at my parochial school in ‘68 or ‘69. Some of you remember more than I do so thanks for filling in some of the gaps. I loved the days we sang this in music class-I remember the illustrations on the page in the music book. I felt this was a song written for English speaking kids to give a vague idea of life in Eastern Europe as a happy carefree culture. No proof of that, just my opinion.

  17. Liz Says:

    Merry polka, Merry polka, Russian people love to dance

    3 steps then a hop, on they dance and cannot stop, Day breaks on the hill, yet the crowds are dancing still.

    I can remember a few more lyrics, but not all…. great song learned in the early 60’s.

  18. Ken Says:

    Wow – I occasionally have this song (parts of it) running through my head, and just happened to get it in there again this morning. I thought about just searching for it – here is a whole thread about the song! I learned it also in a parochial school back in the 60’s in Western Pennsylvania.

    So it doesn’t look like a definite answer to it, but enough people remember it that maybe it will pop up somewhere. I do remember that there was a record going along with it.

    Good day to all!

  19. Maureen Says:

    It just ran through my head again, so I googled and found y’all with the few bits I remembered, so thanks for adding to the mystery of it all! I’d bet it’s just on old family films now. I went to public and parochial schools in NY in the early 70s, so not sure where I learned it, but it appears this song had a good run over time and country.

  20. Joann Says:

    “Merry polka, merry polka, Russian people love to dance. Three steps forward, three steps forward, then a kind of hop and prance” – my ear worm tonight. I wish I knew why these songs pop into our heads. I’m so glad I’m not the only one. I learned it in a parochial school outside of Philly in the 60s. LOL

  21. Martha Says:

    I also think of this song from time to time. Sang it in Catholic grade school as well in 60s, outside Philly. I am missing some of lyrics as well. Hope we all find what we are looking for! Who remembers singing about Daddy’s whiskers?

  22. Terese Says:

    I too would love to have all the lyrics to this song. I’m driving my husband crazy with filling in with da-da-da-da-.

    Merry polka, merry polka,
    Russian people love to dance.
    Three steps forward,
    Three steps forward,
    Then a kind of hop and prance.
    Stamp stamp heel and toe…
    (da da da da da da da)
    Stamp stamp heel and toe.
    Then repeat the dance just so.

    Maybe from one of these Ginn & company Catholic Grade School Songbooks:
    We Sing and Dance
    We Sing and Harmonize
    We Sing and Blend

  23. Kimberly Says:

    I don’t have any new information; I can only buttress previous comments.

    Our class sang this in the 1950s in Jefferson County public schools in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Similar to above, the lyrics I recall are
    Step! Step! Step! Hop!
    Step! Step! Step! Hop!
    This is called the Polka Dance!

    Step! Step! Step! Hop!
    Step! Step! Step! Hop!
    This is called the Polka Dance!

    [probably more lyrics that I canʼt recall]

    Girls wear crimson boots,
    Boys wear blouses with their suits!

    I hope someone can find a good rendition on youtube.

  24. Linda Says:

    I was still curious about this song so came by again to see if any more information had shown up. The reference to the Ginn & Co. books gave me an idea, so I searched to see if I could find some of them on line, and found several at the Internet Archive that I could view. There were various titles and editions, and when I came to about the 6th one, there it was. In my memory there was an accompanying illustration – perhaps there was in another edition, but the two on-line editions did not have illustrations on that particular page, although a number of the other songs had illustrations of the type I remembered.

    From Singing Every Day, Ginn & Co. (1959 edition)
    The Polka
    Christine Turner Curtis Russian Folk Tune

    Step, step, step, hop, step, step, step, hop, This is called the polka dance.
    Step, step, step, hop with a partner, All move clock-wise, smile and glance.
    Stamp, stamp, heel and toe, Then go on with polka slow;
    Stamp, stamp, heel and toe, And repeat the dance just so.

    Merry polkas, merry polkas Russian people love to dance.
    Three steps forward, three steps forward, Then a kind of hop and prance.
    Balalaikas cry, Cheeks grow red, and sashes fly.
    Girls wear crimson boots, Boys wear blouses with their suits.

    From the farmyard, from the farmyard Polkas sound on summer nights.
    In the meadows, in the meadows Fireflies hang their yellow lights.
    Three steps, then a hop, On they dance and cannot stop.
    Day breaks on the hill, Yet the crowds are dancing still.

    It appears the lyrics were written by Christine Turner Curtis and not a translation (some songs that were translated are so noted). This could explain the polka and balalaikas being in the same song. An on-line source gave a little information about her: Born 1891 in Massachusetts, d. 1961. She was a Wellesley graduate (1913) and worked in the advertising department of Macmillan Company, NY; F. A. Stokes Company, NY; and did editorial work for Ginn & Company in Boston. There is a reference to some other songs or at least lyrics that she wrote (although no specific reference to this one), and references to her writing poems.

    The tune itself does appear to be authentic, as I did hear it as I related in my earlier post. So my next quest will be to see if I can find it again, if indeed it was on one of my Ukrainian records. That would at least would give me the original name.

    I found it at: (or search for “Singing Every Day”, it is on page 59).

  25. Mary Menousek Says:

    Thank you for sharing all the info you’ve found researching this song! I’ve looked for it online before and always come up empty. Every few years it pops into my head for no discernible reason. Catholic school music class, early ‘60s.
    This website tells me I’m not the only one whose curiosity you’ve satisfied at long last.
    Now on to the next ear worm!

  26. Mike Says:

    This morning, this earworm of a song from Catholic school in Pittsburgh greeted me as I awoke. And thanks especially to Linda’s detective work and some help from Google finding it, I’m re-living my childhood! ;-)

    My search was “balalaika balalaika russian people love to dance / 3 steps forward 3 steps forward that is how to do the dance / girls wear crimson boots / boys wear stockings with their shoes”

    Which is not word-for-word accurate, but does capture the fact that the song taught you the steps (in the 1st verse); and the ‘girls wear crimson boots’ is more accurate than the ‘boys wear …’ because that part of the song, we were encouraged to really belt it out: C C B A A louder say the nuns.

    Memory is weird. Thanks to all of you also bothered by this children’s song!

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