The Derby Ram

Found in Mother Goose, widely known in England, America and Australia, and even, as "Didn't He Ramble?" as a New Orleans jazz classic, this has become one of the most popular songs in the English language. A.L. Lloyd describes it as a "randy animal-guiser song" which in these latter days survives as a "bawdy anthem for beery students or soldiers coming home on leave." He identifies our monstrous beast as the devil, the "genial horned deity" still half-worshipped in pagan ritual by the medieval peasant, oppressed by church and state alike.

As I went out to Derby, upon a market day,
I spied the biggest ram, sir, that ever was fed on hay.

     Hey ringle dangle,hey ringle day,
     It was the biggest ram, sir, that ever was fed on hay.

The horns upon this ram, sir, they reached up to the moon,
A lad went up in April and didn't get down till June.

The fleece upon this ram, sir, it reached up to the sky,
The eagles made their nests there, you could hear the young 'uns cry.

And all the boys of Derby came begging for his eyes,
To kick around the streets, sir, 'cause they was football size.

And all the women of Derby come begging for his ears,
To make 'em leather aprons to last 'em forty years.

And all the men of Derby come begging for his tail,
To ring St. George's passing bell from top of Derby jail.

It took all the boys of Derby to carry away his bones,
Took all the maids of Derby to roll away his stones.

Now, the butcher that killed this ram,sir, was up to his thighs in blood,
The boy that held the basin was washed away in the flood.

And now my song is over,I've got no more to say,
Just give us eggs and brandy,and we'll be on our way.

© Golden Hind Music