A former popular children’s game, both in the British Isles and in the USA. 19th century versions of it abound and certainly Cecil Sharp encountered it many times. Apart from the version noted here, James Madison Carpenter also collected it from Mrs S C Neal of Aston-sub-Edge, with the following words and description but no tune:
(Children dance in a circle, hands clasped – one in centre.)
Oats and beans and barley. Oats and beans and barley. Do you know, I know, any one know How oats and beans and barley grow?
This way the farmer sows his seed This way he stands and takes his ease. He stamps his foot and claps his hand And turns himself round to view the land.
(Pantomime, standing in a circle.)
Waiting for a partner Waiting for a partner Open the ring and take one in,
Waiting for a partner.
(One in centre takes partner)
Now you’re married, you must obey, Must be true in all you say. You must be kind, you must be good, And help your wife to chop the wood.
Mrs Neal had learnt this as a little girl in Shipston-on-Stour from her aunt who was born in 1805 and died aged 95.