Four White Horses – Caribbean Folk Song

My daughter taught me Four White Horses yesterday. She recently learned it in her music class. It’s a Caribbean Folk Song and a hand clapping game all wrapped up into one!

Here are the lyrics…

Four White Horses
Hand Clapping Song

Four white horses, on the river,
Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow,
Up tomorrow is a rainy day.
Come on up to the shallow bay,
Shallow bay is a ripe banana,
Up tomorrow is a rainy day.

Here’s a YouTube Video so you can see one way to play the hand clapping game (you’ll have to wait to get past the theme song at the beginning of the video)…

Here you can hear a chorus singing it…

Check out our song page of Four White Horses for an mp3 and other info about the song.

Feel free to share any versions you know of this song in the comments below. We also welcome any info about the meaning and history of the song.


Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 at 6:29 pm and is filed under American Kids Songs, Caribbean, Caribbean Childrens Songs, Caribbean Folk Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, English, Folk Songs, Four White Horses, Hand Clapping Rhymes, Languages, Mama Lisa, Music, Nursery Rhymes, Traditional Music, USA, West Indies, YouTube. 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.

20 Responses to “Four White Horses – Caribbean Folk Song”

  1. Uly Says:

    My older niece is into hand clapping rhymes right now too, so you’re really a great resource for us at the moment :)

  2. Lisa Says:

    Cool! I’m hoping to post at least one a week. If you or she would like to share any – we’d love to post ’em!


    Mama Lisa

  3. Uly Says:

    I have no nifty videos, lacking a video camera (though I’ve been scouring youtube up and down and can share some of THEIR videos if you gimme a day or so), but we can write down a few we do, that’d be fun :)

  4. Lisa Says:

    That’d be very nice to learn the ones you do! Thanks!


  5. Uly Says:

    Let me see now… I’m trying to do this *right* now :)

    You have this song on your site (Oh Little Playmate), but you don’t have the instructions, so I don’t know if you played it the way I learned growing up. Ana has finally mastered this one and we can go at a reasonable pace, though we can’t go fast yet:

    You start facing each other (two people) with your right hand up and your left hand down.

    Oh little
    (1. Reverse your hands on oh, clapping your partner on the way up/down, then repeat for lit- and clap your own hands together for -tle)


    (2. Clap right hand to right, then your hands together. Then clap left to left and your hands together twice.)

    Come out and

    (3. Clap the backs of your hands to the backs of your partners hands, then clap the palms of your hands to the palms of your partner’s hands, then clap your own hands together)

    Play with me

    (Repeat step 2)

    Play with my/dollies three

    (repeat steps 2 and 3… aw, heck, keep doing that until the end of the song, which you know)

    Climb up my apple tree/slide down my rainbow/right to my cellar door/and we’ll be jolly friends/forever more one two three four

    (on “one two three four” you break the pattern (you should have just finished step 3 again) and clap right hand to right hand four times)

    Then you can repeat it faster if you like.

    Quack Dilly Oso (which I know many people know as “stella stella ola”)

    Quack dilly oso, quack quack qua-ack, saaaanyorita*, rita rita rita, velo! Velo! Velo, velo, velo, velo! One two three FOUR.

    *I know the word is senorita, but we never said it that way

    With two people, one has their hands on top and the other on the bottom. If you do it right, the person who started on top is the one who ends on top. You just go up and down until the end. On four, the person on top tries to slap the hands of the person on the bottom, and if they succeed, they win. With more people you stand in a circle, right hand on top of the left hand of the person to your right (does that make sense?) and you go around clockwise. My sister and I singlehandedly brought this game to the town of Wavre when we were children, so yeah.

  6. Cale Says:

    Hey these are great videos!!! Do you happen to know the chords that the teacher was using in the second video, on guitar?

  7. Lisa Says:

    We really need a guitar player who can work out the chords (for the site in general). Can anyone figure out the chords in the second video for Cale? Thanks!

    Mama Lisa

  8. David W Solomons Says:

    A far as I can hear the guitar, it is playing chords of G with a cadence going through A minor and then briefly to D7 and back to G at the end of each versicle – sometimes the chord changes are quicker than at other times but that seems to be the basic sequence. Hope this helps

  9. etta brewer Says:

    another verse-
    oh little playmate, I cannot play with you, my dolly has the flu,
    boo hoo hoo hoo hoo. Slide down my celler door and we’ll be jolly friends for evermore. anyone else hear this?

  10. etta brewer Says:

    correction-second vs.
    Oh little PLAYMATE, I cannot play with you, my dolly has the flu,boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo, aint got no rainbarrel aint got no cellar door, but we’ll be jolly friends for evermore.

  11. Lisa Says:

    Hi Etta,

    I’ve been collecting different versions of Oh Little Playmate on Mama Lisa’s World. Check the link. I think your version is there too!


    Mama Lisa

  12. Jaiden Says:


  13. Thazumi Says:

    My music teacher at school taught me and my class how to sing that song and the hand clapping. It was really fun. :D

  14. Cash Says:

    You playing the 4white horses game wrong. I know bcuz I AM Caribbean and that’s not the way we play it

  15. Lisa Says:

    Please share how you play it.

  16. Carla Says:

    I’ve been using this song with my grade 6 music class and they love it!

    The chords are (or at least some good ones are)

    Four white horses, on the river,
    Hey, hey, hey, up tomorrow,
    C G C
    Up tomorrow is a rainy day.
    C G C
    Come on up to the shallow bay,
    Shallow bay is a ripe banana,
    C G C
    Up tomorrow is a rainy day.

    They will work with any key, just use the tonic and fifth chord. :)

  17. Lisa Says:

    Thanks! If you’d like to send us a recording of your class singing it, we’d be happy to post it.


    Mama Lisa

  18. Sasha Says:

    That is not how it played. Come to the St. Vincent and ask anyone down here. You’ll see the right way.

  19. Breanna Says:

    I learned this in choir except with piano

  20. Lisa Says:

    Would you like to sing it for us? :)

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