The other day, I was telling a friend about this song and I couldn’t quite recall all the details of its story. As I searched the sixstr stories archives, I thought, “Time for a reprise!”
So, here’s to Lydia Maria Child and here’s to you, with best wishes to you and yours for a very happy Thanksgiving Day!
I know what you’re going to say.
“‘Over The River And Through The Woods’ is a Christmas song.”
Here’s the story.
The words to “Over The River And Through The Woods” were taken from a poem.
The poem was called “The New-England Boy’s Song About Thanksgiving Day” and it was written by Lydia Maria Child. The original 12 verse poem was included in Ms. Child’s book, Flowers for Children, Vol. 2 and was published in 1844.
Lydia Maria Child was born on February 11, 1802 in Medford, Massachusetts. She was a prolific author, a journalist and an active antislavery and women’s rights activist. Her first novel, Hobomok: A Tale of Early Times, was published in 1824. Her last publication, Aspirations of the World, came out in 1878.
Lydia Maria Child passed away on October 20, 1880 in Wayland, Massachusetts. She was 78 years old.
No one seems to know who set the poem to music or when. One source suggests 1870 and another cites a published version of the song dated 1897. One source believes the melody to be “an old French Folk tune.” The song is generally listed as being “traditional,” or authored by “Anonymous.”
I’ve long enjoyed this song, both the words and its jaunty, infectious melody. We have home videos of past Thanksgivings with me merrily whistling the tune in the background, a soundtrack for the family craziness.
For your Thanksgiving listening pleasure, I have arranged and recorded a fingerstyle, acoustic guitar arrangement of this timeless song. Here, too, are the lyrics, if you’d like to sing along! (Good luck with the second and third verses!)
“Over The River And Through The Woods” – arranged and performed by Eric Sinclair.
Over the river and through the woods, to Grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the woods, oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the woods, to have a full day of play;
Oh, hear the bells ringing, “Ting-a-ling-ling!,” for it’s Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river and through the woods, trot fast my dapple gray;
Spring over the ground just like a hound for this is Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river and through the woods and straight through the barnyard gate.
It seems that we go so incredibly slow, it is so hard to wait.
Over the river and through the woods, now Grandmother’s cap I spy.
Hurrah for fun, the pudding’s done, hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
This post (in a slightly different form) originally appeared in sixstr stories on November 28, 2013.