Boys and Girls to Play

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BOYS AND GIRLS TO PLAY. AKA - "Boys and Girls Come out to Play." AKA and see "We've Cheated the Parson (1)." English, Air and Country Dance Tune (6/4 or 6/8 time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. The tune was published in all four editions of John Young's Second Volume of the Dancing Master (1710-1728), and in rival publishers Walsh and Randall's The New Country Dancing Master, Second Book (1710) and Walsh and Hare's Second Book of the Compleat Country Dancing-Master (1719).

"Boys and Girls Come Out to Play" has had an existence as a song and nursery rhyme coexisting with the country dance, and appeared in the earliest extant collection of nursery rhymes, Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book published in London around 1744. Words collected in the mid-19th century by James Orchard Halliwell and go:

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.

The operas Chuck, or the School-Boy's Opera (1729) and Bay's Opera (1730) both include the song. According to Wikipedia, "The verse may date back to the time when children were expected to work during the daylight hours, and play was reserved for late in the evening."

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Young (Second Volume of the Dancing Master, 1st edition), 1710; p. 138.

Recorded sources:




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