It’s not often that we find songs asking kids to come out to play during late evenings and nights. Girls and Boys Come Out To Play is one such nursery rhyme from the 18th century. It tells kids to leave their supper and bed for later by inviting them to play outside.
The nursery rhyme has ten verses divided into three stanzas (4-4-2). It encourages little children to step outdoors and play in the moonlight. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? We sure wish we were allowed to play when it was bedtime.
Read on to find the lyrics, video, and more information about this cute little song.
Girls and boys, come out to play,
The moon doth shine as bright as day;
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep,
And come with your playfellows into the street.
Come with a whoop, come with a call,
Come with a good will or not at all.
Up the ladder and down the wall,
A halfpenny roll will serve us all.
You find milk, and I'll find flour,
And we'll have a pudding in half an hour.
Download a copy of the printable lyrics and sing along with your little ones. They will definitely enjoy it. (PDF Attached)
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Check out this link for an animated version of the nursery rhyme:
Origins and History
The exact origins of Girls and Boys Come Out To Play are not clear. Records show that the nursery rhyme has been in use since 1708. There are multiple versions of the song. Some versions use only the first six lines. The other versions have ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ interchanged.
Research shows that the song belonged to a time when children worked during the day. This left no time to play in the morning. Kids would be encouraged to play during the evening when the moonlight lit up the region.
The first two lines of the song were more popular. They appeared in different dance books, satires, and political broadside between 1708 and 1729. The first six lines appear in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, a collection of nursery rhymes. The book was published in London in 1744.
Girls and Boys Come Out To Play is also a part of the Roud Folk Song Index, numbered at 5452. It was also collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-19th century.
Some researchers say that kids were treated like little adults and encouraged to step out of the house even though it was night. This is the opposite of how kids are told not to go out once it’s dark.
In a way, yes. The song can also be associated with the Industrial Revolution, where poor children accompanied their parents to work and had no time to play. Only wealthy kids could afford school and a regular life.
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