Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

There Was an Old Woman (Tossed Up in a Basket), a Singable Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

Posted on: September 3, 2014

It would seem like every song is my favorite song, and many of them are.  I do have a special love for THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP IN A BASKET.  I wrote my own little variation of the tune and made up guitar chords for it.  Luckily, they are easy for me to play, so this is always on the menu of songs.  There really is something special about the Old Woman, though.  She is doing us a service by sweeping the sky clean each night so we can enjoy the moon and stars.  She is also generous and kind of spirit, as she invites the narrator to come along on a future trip.

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tossed up in a basket eleg 4 sbwe
There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket
Traditional Words and Tune Adapted by ELEG
Guitar Chords by Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
Illustration by Ursula Koering
From Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)
Page Coordinated by ELEG
To view or print this page, click here:
tossed up in a basket eleg 4 sbwe

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SBWE SBS old woman tossed w chords
There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket by ELEG for SBWE SBS
Traditional Words and Tune Adapted by ELEG
Guitar Chords by Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
Page Coordinated by ELEG for SBWE Songbook Series
To view or print this page, click here:
SBWE SBS old woman tossed w chords

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SBWE SBS old woman tossed no chords

There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket by ELEG for SBWE SBS (no chords)
Traditional Words and Tune Adapted by ELEG
Guitar Chords by Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
Page Coordinated by ELEG for SBWE Songbook Series
To view or print this page, click here:
SBWE SBS old woman tossed no chords

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old woman tossed for sbwe cover only
There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket
Traditional Words and Tune Adapted by ELEG for SBWE
Guitar Chords by Emily Leatha Everson Gleichenhaus
Illustration by McLoughlin Bros. and by Various Other Artists

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old woman tossed basket BFW RMG - Copy
There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket
(Also called OLD WOMAN OLD WOMAN)
Traditional Words and Tune
Illustration by Blanche Fisher Wright
From THE REAL MOTHER GOOSE

I love this illustration, by Blanche Fisher Wright for THE REAL MOTHER GOOSE

I’ll collect a few things here to remember it and sing it myself.

Sometimes the old woman is tossed up in a basket and sometimes a blanket.

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old woman tossed basket wee sing - Copy
There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket
Traditional Words and Tune
Illustration by Nancy Spence Klein
From Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies

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tossed up basket childcraft U. Koering - Copy2 - Copy
There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket
Traditional Words and Tune
Illustration by Ursula Koering
From Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)

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By Ellen Raskin
sweeping the sky (raskin) - Copy - Copy

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By Blanche Fisher Wright
old woman tossed basket BFW RMG - Copy

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I don’t know who made this picture
she who rides a basket with a broom 4

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Mother Goose, 1907. Published by McLoughlin Bros.; New York
old woman tossed MG Linen edit

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Hilarious There Was an Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket as depicted by The Charles Addams Mother Goose:
charlesaddamsmothergoose woman basket

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By William Wallace Denslow
old woman tossed denslow - Copy

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Lyrics as recorded in The Real Mother Goose

Like many rhymes, the words to this one vary a bit from place to place.

I like the way these, from The Real Mother Goose, fall together:

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP IN A BASKET
(Also called OLD WOMAN, OLD WOMAN)
Traditional Words and Tune

There was an old woman tossed up in a basket,
Seventeen times as high as the moon:
But where she was going, no mortal could tell,
For under her arm she carried a broom.

“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” said I
“Whither, oh whither, oh whither so high?”
“To sweep the cobwebs from the sky;
And I’ll be with you by-and-by.”

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Lyrics as recorded in Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN
Traditional Words and Tune

There was an old woman tossed up in a basket,
Seventeen times as high as the moon;
And where she was going I couldn’t but ask it,
For in her hand she carried a broom.

“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” said I
“Whither, oh whither, oh whither so high?”
“To sweep the cobwebs from the sky.”
“May I go with you?”
“Aye,  by and by.”

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MUSICAL SETTINGS

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I like Neva Eder’s recording of this little rhyme song:
http://www.amazon.com/There-Was-Woman-Tossed-Basket/dp/B001NGR1NY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409768590&sr=8-1&keywords=NEVA+EDER%2C+THERE+WAS+AN+OLD+WOMAN+TOSSED+UP+IN+A+BASKET

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This setting is easy to hear and easy to sing, too:
http://www.amazon.com/There-Was-Woman-Tossed-Basket/dp/B003AM53WU/ref=sr_1_12?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1409768710&sr=1-12&keywords=THERE+WAS+AN+OLD+WOMAN+TOSSED+UP+IN+A+BASKET

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Similar to them and easy to sing and hear is the Wee Sing version:
http://www.amazon.com/There-Was-an-Old-Woman/dp/B0052Q3G5S/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409768938&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=THERE+OLD+WOMAN+TOSSED+UP%2C+wee+sing

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Classical performance, here:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004CCZC4Q/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk24?ie=UTF8&qid=1409696627&sr=1-16%3C%2Fa%3E

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SONG HISTORY

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Mama Lisa’s webpage for this rhyme includes lyrics and song history:
http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=hes&p=1537

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The Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies book indicates that the words are English, written in 1765 and that the music is Irish, written in the 1600s.

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Some interesting info about THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP IN A BASKET, here:
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/?c=29732&Old_Woman_Tossed_Up_in_a_Basket

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Addendum 9/8/2014

Humming the song over and over in my head, I’ve slightly changed the lyrics to suit my own needs (that’s the FOLK WAY!),

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN
Traditional Words and Tune Adapted by Emily Gleichenhaus for SBWE

There was an old woman tossed up in a basket
Seventeen times as high as the moon
And what she was doing, I just had to ask it
For in her hand, she carried a broom

“Old woman, old woman, old woman,” said I
“Whither O whither O whither so high?”
“To sweet the cobwebs out of the sky
And you can come with me
Aye, by and by.”

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Emily’s thoughts about what is going on:

The movie in my head goes like this, I’m walking along in the night when a shadow crosses the bright full moon and causes me to look up.  A friendly looking witch is up high in the air and she is waving around a broom.  I ask her, “What are you doing up there so high in the air?”  She responds, “I’m sweeping all these cobwebs (you might think they’re clouds) out of the sky so they won’t block the light of the moon.”  I tell her that what she is doing looks like fun and ask if I might have a go at it.”  She says, “You can come with me,

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Collections that feature this Singable Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

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THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED is featured in:

Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)

Published by Field Enterprises Educational Corporation
Edited by J. Morris Jones
Words and Music by Various Artists
Illustrated by Various Artists

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THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED is featured in:

Lavender’s Blue (A Book of Nursery Rhymes)
Traditional Words and Tunes
Compiled by Kathleen Lines
Illustrated by Harold Jones

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THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED is featured in:
cat and the fiddle treasury jackie morris
The Cat and the Fiddle (A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes)
Traditional Words and Tunes
Illustrated by Jackie Morris

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THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED is featured in:

The Real Mother Goose

Traditional Words and Tunes
Illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright
ISBN 978-0-7607-9425-8

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Illustration, words, melody and guitar chords for THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED are featured in:

Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes and Lullabies
Traditional Words and Tunes
Compiled, Adapted and Arranged by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp
Illustrated by Nancy Spence Klein

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More online image finds

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Really groovy cartoon representation of the THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP IN A BASKET in two pages by cartoonist Richard Thompson:
Page 1:
https://singbookswithemily.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/831dc-oldwomantossed2bsml.jpg
Page 2:
https://singbookswithemily.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/ff70b-oldwomantossed2.jpg

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A marvelous THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP IN A BASKET, Mother Goose Paper Doll cut out from newspaper 1900:
http://mostlypaperdollstoo.blogspot.com/2013_10_01_archive.html

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Great line drawing of OLD WOMAN TOSSED UP IN A BASKET by W. W. Denslow
http://www.alephbet.com/pages/books/31919/original-art-there-was-an-old-woman-tossed-up-in-a-basket-from-mother

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There Was an Old Woman (Tossed Up in a Basket), an Illustrated Singable Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/there-was-an-old-woman-tossed-up-in-a-basket-a-singable-mother-goose-nursery-rhyme/

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CHILDCRAFT
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Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket, Great for Halloween and Slightly Tweaked by ELEG for SBWE
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MOTHER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES FOR SBWE
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