The Farmer's in the Dell
is one of a trio of song and dance items which I use to warm-up audiences. The other two song and dances are being the notorious Royal Navy "Black Cat" and The Okey Cokey
. The song itself is a nursery item for toddlers but it goes down very well here in Germany as it is completely unknown. They all always are surprised by the punch verse of they all beat the dog
which they generally all join in with gusto.
Since writing the above sometime in 1999, now (July, 2019), after checking out a large number of politically correct Youtube videos, I feel impelled to record how this dance was performed unsupervised in the playground of St. Stephen's School Worcester in the late 1940's.
Perhaps as many as 20 to 30 children would form a circle and dance around singing "The farmer in the dell, the farmer in the dell, Hi-ho, the derry-o. the farmer in the dell." and then stop.
At this point a hapless lad would be nominated as the farmer and go to the centre of the circle. The dance is then resumed circling in the opposite direction while the farmer spins around in the contrary direction. This time the chant is "The farmer takes a wife". When the full chant is sung, they stop and the "farmer" chooses a "wife" who then joins him in the centre making their own circle. The dance is resumed with the inner and outer circles dancing in opposite directions. This is repented to the chants of "The wife takes a child" and "The child takes a dog.". Once the "dog" was picked, all the children would joyfully fall on the "dog" singing "We'll all beat the dog" (Such is the innate cruelty in children's songs)
Comments are welcome.