The History of the Tune “Go tell Aunt Rhody" Around the World

imageWritten by Sadao Mazuka in Japan.

The tune to “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” comes from Europe in the 18th century.  It has travelled all over the globe, from France, to the US, to Japan.  Here’s a breakdown of the route it’s taken…

1752 (France) – Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau composed the original tune to “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”.  Rousseau’s tune was written for his one-act opera Le devin du village (“The Village Soothsayer”).  It can be found in Scene 8 – “Pantomime”.   You can hear it in the video below at 2:01.

1773 (England) – A version of the tune can be heard in the hymn Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessingby British theologian, pastor and hymn-writer John Fawcett (1740 – 1817).  It’s one of the tunes used for this hymn – Sicilian Mariners is the other tune.

You can hear the version of this hymn with the tune of “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” in the video below.

Around 1812 (England) – Johann Baptist Cramer published the tune as a piano etude called “Rousseau’s Dream”.  You can hear it below.

Around 1840 (Germany) – The tune was used for education in Kindergarten.  In this version of the tune, it was called the “Greenville Hymn”.

(Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel; world first founder of Kindergarten)

Around 1850? (USA) – “Go Tell Aunt Rhody

1851 (England) – London; Used for a song of gymnastics in Kindergarten.  We believe this version of the tune was called the “Greenville Hymn”.

1872 (Japan) – Margaret Griffis introduced this tune in her education of Kindergarten. Margaret Clark Griffis (1838 – 1913) was the sister of American, William Elliot Griffis (1843 – 1928).

(Reference: “The Role of Margaret Griffis in Women’s Education during the Meiji Period in Japan”.)

1881 (Japan) – Used for a song called “Miwataseba” or “Looking Around (at the scenery)”.

1913 (USA) -Words to the American song “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” collected for the 1st time by Cecil Sharp.

1947 (Japan) – “Musunde Hiraite” ; mainly used in Kindergarten.

If anyone else knows of any songs around the world that use the tune to “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”, please share it with us in the comments below.  Thanks for sharing the time-line of “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” Sadao!

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014 at 9:25 am and is filed under American Kids Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, English Children's Songs, Folk Songs, France, German, Germany, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Japan, Japanese, Japanese Folk Songs, Languages, USA. 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.

24 Responses to “The History of the Tune “Go tell Aunt Rhody" Around the World”

  1. Lisa Says:

    There’s a Czech folk song with the “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” tune. It’s called “Růžička” (Rose). You can listen to it and find the lyrics here.

  2. Monique Says:

    The beginning of the tune reminds me of a song from my early teens called Dis-lui que j’en rêve by French singer Johnny Hallyday. The French song tune is from a song by Bobby Darrin called Jailer Bring Me Water.

  3. richardln2 Says:

    I was just listening to some Christmas music, and lo and behold, I hear the “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” tune. The music was set to words by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) called “A Cradle Hymn ( ). The “song” doesn’t use all the verses from the Watts’ hymn. An example can be heard here ( ).

  4. Lisa Says:

    That interesting to learn Richard! Thanks for sharing that info.

  5. jorge Says:

    The trailer of Resident Evil 7 has this song.

  6. Denis Komoda Says:

    Check Burl Ives version on YouTube!

    I was googling the history of this tune, and found both this very folkish american version and your very interesting website!

    Thank you for the informations!

  7. Robert Blanda Says:

    There is yet another czech song with the same tune: Jo, třešně zrály (Yeah, cherries ripen) you may watch it here:

  8. Anne Says:

    The Norwegian Hymn Milde Jesus Dine Hender builds on the same tune

  9. Gregory Says:

    Im pretty sure its also the Doppio movimento section of Copeland’s Appalachian Spring

  10. Autumn Says:

    An artist named Jordan Reynes (I think that’s her name) made a twisted cover of Go Tell Aunt Rhody for the game Resident Evil 7. It plays in the intro for the game.

  11. Hellight Says:

    Now, a lot of people will apper telliing that this music is used in RE7…

  12. DonH Says:

    I think this song is related.“go-tell-it-mountain”-story-behind-song

  13. rog Says:

    Who penned the words as we have them now?

  14. Michael Levine Says:

    I wrote the version of Rhody that is in Resident Evil and Jordan Reynes sings. My Japanese clients wanted a song that people knew the world over, but that they wouldn’t have to pay an expensive licensing fee for. I was born in Japan and suggested “How about Musunde Hiraite?” They were confused. “The Japanese folk song?” they asked. “No,” I replied, “the American folk song, Go Tell Aunt Rhody – except that instead of saying ‘the old grey goose is dead’ we’ll sing ‘everybody’s dead'”. I also wrote two original verses with a new melody that refer to events in the game, going to the Aunt Rhody part on the chorus.

    I wish I had seen this post first – it would have made the idea a lot easier to sell.

  15. Scott Sinclair Says:

    I know this as “Stan’s Theme” from the 1990’s computer game “Monkey Island 2”

  16. Monique Says:

    I’ve just come across this page in Spanish by a Spanish musician. His conclusion after studying several documents is that Jean-Jacques Rousseau plagiarized the whole work. His demonstration is quite convincing!

  17. chris williams Says:

    fantastic research..thoroughly enjoyed!
    chris williams
    anne frank project

  18. Emily Webster Says:

    Greenville tune is also used for the hymn “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” by Joseph Hart (1712-1768).

  19. Sonia Price Says:

    My Georgia grandma used to sing this to me when I was small, with one difference.
    She sang “Go Tell Aunt Taffy”

  20. ECS Says:

    I also like the minor version. Much more poignant.

  21. Mary Says:

    I’ve heard this tune used with the lullaby “By-low, baby.”

  22. James Skipper Says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  23. Gary Wiles Says:

    What led me here was to research “Go Tell Aunt Rhody”. I heard a snippet of the song on an 1962 season of The Andy Griffith Show episode called Man in a Hurry.

  24. Petr Says:

    Let me add two small clarifications regarding the mentioned Czech songs:
    1) “Růžička” is not based on Aunt Rhody, it was transcripted from an old renaissance partition. Unless of course Rousseau got inspiration from it as well… However, the same group has their own version of Aunt Rhody:
    2) “Jó třešně zrály” got into Czech via Jailer bring me water which itself is based on Aunt Rhody. I found this list of version of Jailer:

    Thanks for sharing the history!

Leave a Reply