(1965) Rhyme and Rhythm – An Anthology of Poems and Songs for Children (Vols 1-4)

rhyme&rhythm2Argo release numbers: RG414 – RG417 and ZRG5414 – ZRG5417, re-released as Argo PLP 1077-1080 in 1972
Recorded: in association with MacMillan and Co
Directed and produced by: Harley Usill

Sleeve Design: Master Robert Heath, Hollymount County Primary School, Wimbledon

Never issued on CD. Twenty-three of the songs that appear on the four records were released on one LP by Argo in 1966 – ‘Oats and Beans and Barley’. Six others were released by Argo as an EP for the 1965 Christmas market – Twelve Days of Christmas.

Includes poems by:
Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rossetti, John Clare, Blake, Wordsworth, Osbert Sitwell, Masefleld, Sassoon, Kipling, Ogden Nash, Lear, Chesterton, Hardy, Hugh Chesterman, Eleanor Farjeon, Elizabeth du Preez and the Book of Job.

See full track listing at the end of the notes.

Poems read by:
Tony Church, Michael Hordern, Spike Milligan, Janette Richer, Prunella Scales, Margaretta Scott, Gary Watson, Patrick Wymark, Elizabeth du Preez.

Children’s poems read by:
Susan Jagger
Paul Davies

Joan Rimmer, Anne Mendoza, James Blades, Alfred Edwards, Osian Ellis, Benjamin Britten

esmelewis2Music arrangers
Joan Rimmer, Anne Mendoza

Music director
Michael Bremner

Pat Shuldham-Shaw, Esme Lewis, Hampstead Garden Suburb Junior School Choir, Osian Ellis, John Hahessy


These records are companions to four volumes of books for primary school children published by Macmillan, edited by James Gibson and Raymond Wilson. The records and books were labelled red, blue, green and yellow – red for the youngest of primary school kids, yellow for the oldest. So, there were longer poems in yellow, more songs in red.

“Each record contains beautiful verses, funny verses, ballads, rhymes, nursery songs, and each ends with a group of specifically Christian poems,” said a reviewer in The Gramophone.

“There is almost as much information, instruction and a sense of awe, wonder and worship as in the Bible itself, alternating with an abundance of hilarity, some of it contributed by Spike Milligan.”

singingtogethersummer1963Singing Together
These LPs must have been a bit of a boon for primary school teachers in the mid-‘sixties – poetry and music study aids available to play and read whenever they chose, rather than being stuck with the BBC’s scheduling of radio programmes like Singing Together (Monday at 11.00) and Rhythm and Melody (Wednesday at 11.00).

The Singing School (1)
When I started listening to traditional folk music in the late ‘sixties it was a bit like trying beer when you’ve been used to Tizer. Peter Bellamy (beer) didn’t sing Daddy Fox like the music teacher at Bardsey County Primary School (Tizer). And The Watersons didn’t do The Derby Ram much like Pat Shuldham-Shaw.


But, thanks to the BBC and Bardsey County Primary School, I knew loads of folk songs already – Oh No, John, Donkey Riding, Billy Boy, John Peel, Widecombe Fair, Oh Susanna, Soldier Soldier…

It took some doing, but like all proper men, I got to prefer beer to Tizer. But I still like the odd sip of Tizer now and then for old times sake.

For tens of thousands of children across Britain (and the Commonwealth too) this set of records and/or the BBC Singing Together broadcasts will also have been their introduction to British folk songs.  And for a good number of years at that – the record set was still on the recommended list for children’s librarians well into the 1970s.

It’s nice to think. All those people who say to themselves “we used to sing that at primary school!” when they listen to Admiral Benbow (Swan Arcade), Bruton Town (Martin Carthy) or Stanley the Rat (Cyril Tawney).

EFDSS_new_head[1]“Heritage materials”
The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is currently working with primary schools on folk song and singing games projects, and looking at ways of opening up its archives (“heritage materials”) to the schools and communities from which they came.

In early summer 2009 it launched an online songbook for primary school children, Fun with Folk, as part of its efforts to “support the curriculum and other key contemporary educational concerns”.

To see what else is competing for the attention of primary school children in music class, see below.

Pat Shuldham-Shaw
Many of the songs are sung here by Pat Shuldham-Shaw, who collected folk songs in Shetland and the Midlands in the late forties and early fifties, played a major part in editing Scotland’s ‘biggest and finest manuscript collection of folk-song (The Greig-Duncan collection)’, wrote the lovely air Margaret’s Waltz and any number of ’round’ songs, taught and promoted round singing and sword dances, was one of the Countryside Players and a ‘Gold Badge’ holder of the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

More on the other people assembled for this project as and when.

Kathleen Ferrier - Songs of the British Isles 1951-53How to sing a folk song
“There is a right and wrong style in folk song just as much as in lieder, oratorio or even dance-band crooning,” said Shuldham-Shaw in an article in the International Folk Music Journal in 1952, “but unfortunately too many of the best singers sing folk songs as though they were opera or Brahms Lieder due in the main to a lack of understanding of the style required.”

He was right. Kathleen Ferrier singing Blow The Wind Southerly didn’t do it for me as a nine-year-old. My father singing Red River Valley and the Banana Boat Song (which he said he’d learned during the war in Kingston) did.

“The obvious starting point is surely the traditional singer himself,” said Shuldham-Shaw, ten years before the Critics Group would take up the refrain. “The first lesson to be learnt is the complete sincerity of the singing, and this is the basis of what we might call folk song style…Arising out of this is the essential simplicity of the performance…there is no cleverness for its own sake.

“In folk song, the tune, however beautiful in itself, is essentially a vehicle for the words…a folk song should be told rather than sung.”

“A privilege and tremendous fun”
“We of our generation owe much to Harley Usill of Argo,” said the Gramophone in its review of the LPs, “and now that his name is billed as producer as well as the impresario we have always admired, we have an opportunity of laying a laurel in gratitude for a set of records that show every virtue of the recorder’s art as well as being an imaginative gesture that will delight us, and our children, and our children’s children, and to which we ourselves will return in old age to regain our faith, if not our sanity. While so much of reviewing may be a duty, to listen to these records has been both a privilege and tremendous fun.”

singing schoolThe Singing School (2)
To find out what kids are probably singing in primary school today, click here or read on or both.

There are some great songs amongst those recommended for teachers on the Our Singing School CD – and a surprising number are what us kids used to listen to with Uncle Mac on the radio some 50 years ago. That’s a good few years BEFORE these ‘Rhyme and Rhythm’ LPs came out.

A Windmill in Old Amsterdam, Any Old Iron, How Much Is That Doggy in the Window, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, I Whistle A Happy Tune, If I Had A Hammer, Nellie The Elephant, The Runaway Train (and she blew, blew, blew, blew, blew) and loads more.

Of the 200 songs featured on the CD, little more than half a dozen are what you might call traditional British folk songs: Michael Finnegan, What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor, My Bonnie Lies over The Ocean, Widecombe Fair, The Big Ship Sails on the Ally Ally O, On Ilkley Moor Baht’at and the Skye Boat Song (don’t niggle).

You wonder what it is that makes those particular songs last.

The editorial board
nellietheelephantI wonder too how they go about selecting what makes it on to a CD of songs for primary school children.

“Folk songs…I think we should drop that Michael Finnegan – and have some Donovan…or that one that goes have you seen the old man…da-di-dah…the seamen’s mission?”

“We’ve got that already…drop Michael Finnigan?…the wind came out and blew them innegan … poor old …there’s this great song too that my dad used to play about this fox that goes out hunting and bays to the moon…something, something…I bet that would go down well in the classroom.”

“…I know it!… For he’d many many miles to go that night…”

“…before he came to his…”



“I’m not sure kids would get how to sing it…and would we get away with those legs all a dangerling down O…”

“Dooooown O, Doooooooooown O! And he did not mind that quivvy quivvy quack and the legs all a dangerling dow-ow-own O…”

Now children, sing along, two three: “Oh dear, what can the matter be…”


Here’s the full track listing of the four records. Songs in bold.

All tracks marked with * are taken from ‘Songs from Friday Afternoon’ (Argo EAF 18) – sung by John Hahessy (as he was known as a boy soprano – now better known as tenor John Elwes) with Benjamin Britten accompanying

Record One – Red Book

Side One
Tom Thumb’s Alphabet (unknown) – PS/MH
A Nail (unknown) – PD
Come out to Play (unknown) – choir, piano, jew’s harp
School’s Out (W.H. Davies) – MH
Oats and Beans and Barley (unknown) – choir, AE accordion

Things I love (Elizabeth du Preez) – SJ
The Babes in the Wood (unknown) – MS
There was a Man of Thessaly (unknown) – PSS
Little Johnny (unknown) – JR
The Man who wasn’t There (unknown) – SM
There was a Monkey (unknown) – JH vocal, BB piano*
Momotara (trans Rose Fyleman) – TC

The King’s High Drummer (Caryl Brahms) – TC, percussion
Little Ben Bute (W.B. Rands) – JR
Tom, the Piper’s Son (unknown) – PSS vocal, AE occarina, & percussion, guitar
Some One (Walter de la Mare) – MS
The Scissor Man (Madeleine Nightingale) – SM
A Thousand Hairy Savages (Spike Milligan) – SM
A Man and his Wife (unknown) – TC
The Brave Old Duke of York (unknown) – choir, AE occarina, JB drums, with piano

Questions (Raymond Wilson) – PD
In the Mirror (Elizabeth Fleming) – JR
A Jingle (unknown) – SM
A Little Hen (unknown) – MS
Skippets, the Bad One (Christine E Bradley) – JR

Cuckoo (unknown) – JH vocal, BB paino*
Merry Birds (Rodney Bennett) – GW
A Little Cock Sparrow (unknown) – SM
Bird Talk (Aileen Fisher) – JR
Mocking Bird (unknown) – EL vocal, PSS guitar
Robin (Elizabeth Clare) – SJ
Quack (Walter de la Mare) – MH

Side Two
The Frog and the Mouse (unknown) – EL vocal, PSS guitar
The Kangaroo (unknown) – TC
I’m not Frightened of Pussy Cats (Spike Milligan) – SM
Two Little Kittens (unknown) – MS
Cats (Eleanor Farjeon) – MH

The Cow (Elizabeth Fleming) – JP
Oh dear (unknown) – EL vocal, JB glockenspiel
I had a Little Pony (unknown) – PS
The Roundabout (Clive Sansom) – GW
The Little Toy Land of the Dutch (unknown) – TC

The New Year (unknown) – PD
Storm-Wind (Christina Rossetti) – MS
Weather (unknown) – TC
Yankee Doodle (unknown) – PSS vocal, with choir, JB xylophone

What the Leaves Said (unknown) – MS
Child’s Song in Spring (E Nesbit) – MH
Bell-Song (Eleanor Farjeon) – TC
Apples (P. Davis) – PD
St Clement’s Day (unknown) – JR
Glad that I Live am I (Lizette Woodworth Reese) – SJ

Christmas (unknown) – MS
The Children’s Song of the Nativity (Frances Chesterton) – MS/JR
Cradle Hymn (Isaac Watts) – EL
Shephers, Rejoice (unknown) – PS
A Sunny Bank (unknown) – MH, PSS

rhyme and rhythm record 2RECORD TWO – Blue Book

Side One
He Loves me, He Loves me not (unknown) – JR
Numbers (Eleanor Farjeon) – MH
The Vowels (Jonathan Swift) – PW
Un (James Reeves) – TC
Fire Down Below (unknown) – PSS & choir
The Visit (Queenie Scott Hopper) – JR
Daddy Fell into the Pond (Alfred Noyes) – SM
A Knight and a Lady (unknown) – GW

John and his Mare (unknown) – TC
Jemima Jane (Marchette Chute) – JR
Skipping (Thomas Hood) – MS
Derby Ram (unknown) – PSS

Bob Cherry (Christina Rossetti) – JR
The Little Elf-Man (J.K. Bangs) – SM
Beech Leaves (James Reeves) – MH
The Pasture (Robert Frost) – PW
The Penny Fiddle (Robert Graves) – GW
Bed in Summer (R.L. Stevenson) – PD
The Keys of Canterbury (unknown) – EL & PSS

Why (Raymond Wilson) – SM
Song for a Ball-Game (Wilfrid Thorley) – choir
Dancing (Eleanor Farjeon) – SJ
This Old Man (unknown) – choir
Dancing Happily (Valerie Relton) – SJ
Song of the Pop-Bottlers (Morris Bishop) – TC

Rhyme (Christina Rossetti) – MS
Hurt no Living Thing (Christina Rossetti) – MS
The Bees’ Song (Walter de la Mare) – SM
Sing a Song of Honey (Barbara Euphan Todd) – MS
A Dog and a Bee (unknown) – TC
If you should Meet a Crocodile (unknown) – SM

Side Two
Robin-a-Thrush (unknown) – PSS
A Mouse, a Frog, and a Little Red Hen (unknown) – MS
Over in the Meadow (unknown) – MH
Horses (Christina Rossetti) – JR

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (Edward Lear) – EL, Joan Rimmer piano
On the Ning Nang Nong (Spike Milligan) – SM
Mice (Rose Fyleman) – JN

The Rivals (James Stephens) – GW
Robin’s Song (unknown) – JR
What is Pink? (Christina Rossetti) – MH/

Written in March (William Wordsworth) – MH
Spring (Raymond Wilson) – GW
Spring Song (William Blake) – MS
Pippa’s Song (Robert Browning) – TC
The Magic Piper (E.L. Marsh) – GW
A Witch’s Chant (John Wilson) – PD
Lullaby (Shakespeare) – Ossian Ellis

Trees (Sara Coleridge) – JR
The Silver House (John Lee) – MS
The Windmill (H.W. Longfellow) – TC
Bell-Ringing (Clive Sansom) – GW
The Nightingale (Ian Colvin) – JR
This is the Key (unknown) – TC

Wassail Song (unknown) – choir
Chester Carol (unknown) – MS
I Saw Three Ships (unknown) – choir
The Robin’s Song (unknown) – TC

rhyme and rhythm record 3RECORD THREE – Green Book

Side One
English (Eleanor Farjeon) – GW
Jargon (James Reeves) – PW
As (unknown) – JR/GW
A Royal Wedding (Raymond Wilson) – PS

Mr Tom Narrow (James Reeves) – PW
Sir Nicketty Nox (Hugh Chesterman) – TC
Soldier, Soldier (unknown) – Choir, Joan Rimmer piano, James Blades drums

George (Hilaire Belloc) – MH
My Brother Bert (Ted Hughes) – SM
Kilkenny Cats (unknown) – PS
The Tale of Custard the Dragon (Ogden Nash) – TC

The Frog (Hilaire Belloc) – TC
The Mouse in the Wainscot (Ian Serraillier) – PS
The Plaint of the Camel (Charles Edward Carryl) – PW
Sing Song (J.A. Lindon) – SM
Three Limericks (unknown) – TC/PS
The Land of the Bumbley Boo (Spike Milligan) – SM

Grim and Gloomy (James Reeves) – PW
The Death of Admiral Benbow (unknown) – PSS

Meeting (Rachel Field) – PS
The Fallow Deer at the Lonely House (Thomas Hardy) – MS
Glorious it is (trans Carpenter) – GW
The Piper (William Blake) – PS
The Piper (Seamus O’Sullivan) – SM
The Chimney Sweeper (William Blake ) – PS

Side Two

A Warning (unknown) – JR
Little Trotty Wagtail (John Clare) – MH
Birds’ Nests (unknwon) – MS
The Butterfly and the ?Kite (Raymond Wilson) – PW
Where the Bee Sucks (Shakespeare) – OE
The Snare (James Stephens) – MS
The Horse (from the Book of Job) – MH
Goblin Market (Christina Rossetti) – PS
Autumn (John Clare) – GW
Sheep in Winter (John Clare) – GW

The Wind (Dorothy Wordsworth) – PS
Trade Winds (John Masefield) – GW
Gipsy Dance (Linda Davies) – SJ
The Waves of the Sea (Eleanor Farjeon) – MS/JR

Nod (Walter de la Mare) – TC
Bird and Beast (Christina Rossetti) – MS
One More River (unknown) – PSS and choir
Psalm 23 (The Bible) – PW
The Birds (Hilaire Belloc) – JH/BB*

The Huron Carol (J Edgar Middleton) – PSS
Kings Came Riding (Charles Williams) – GW
All in the Morning (unknown) – EL
The Twelve Days of Christmas (unknown) – PSS

rhyme and rhythm record 4RECORD FOUR – Yellow Book

Side One
The Song of Creation (unknown) – PSS

I Love All Beauteous Things (Robert Bridges) – TC
Transformation (Jeane Richards) – SJ
Morning After a Storm (William Wordsworth) – TC
Something Told the Wild Geese (Rachel Field) – PS
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Robert Frost) – MH

Gipsies (John Clare) – GW
Tewkesbury Road (John Masefield) – MH
Song (unknown) – TC
Time (Robert Hubbard) – PD
Middle Ages (Siegfried Sassoon) – GW
Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor (unknown) – PW

Bruton Town (unknown) – PSS
The Devil’s Questions (unknown) – PS
Little Mohee (unknown) – PSS

The Shell (James Stephens) – MH
Boating in Autumn (trans from Chinese by Arthur Waley) – PW
Little Fan (James Reeves) – PS

The Press Gang (unknown) – PS
The Coasts of High Barbary (unknown) – PSS and choir
Van Dieman’s Land (unknown) – PW
Locomotive (trans T Ninomiya and D.J. Enright) – TC

Side Two
Sir Smasham Uppe (E.V. Rieu) – GW
You are Old, Father William (Lewis Carroll) – MH
Matilda (Hilaire Belloc) – PW
Urchin (Christopher Hassall) – JR

The Quangle Wangle’s Hat (Edward Lear) – SM
I had a Hippopotamus (Patrick Barrington) – PSS

The Microbe (Hilaire Belloc) – TC
The Platypus (Oliver Harford) – MH
Some Natural History (Don Marquis) – SM
Stanley the Rat (Cyril Tawney) – PSS
My Sister Jane (Ted Hughes) – PS

Fishing Song (Isaac Walton) – JH/BB*
Dobbin (Alfred Noyes) – GW
Nicholas Nye (Walter de la Mare) – PW
The Eagle (Lord Tennyson) – GW
The Robin (Thomas Hardy) – JR
Anglo-Saxon Riddle (trans Crossley-Holland) – PS
The Donkey (G.K. Chesterton) – PW

Bethlehem (Robert Southwell) – PS
As Joseph was a-walking (unknown) – EL
Cradle Song (William Blake) – PS
Psalm 121 (The Bible) TC

~ by folkcatalogue on May 10, 2009.

13 Responses to “(1965) Rhyme and Rhythm – An Anthology of Poems and Songs for Children (Vols 1-4)”

  1. How can one get hold of these?
    This is a treasure from my children’s past but their tape cassettes proved too fragile in the end!

  2. Sorry! I didn’t specify that I was talking about Rhyme & Rhythm!

  3. both the books and the records are really difficult to get hold of. i think you’re best best is to set up a permanent search in eBay and they’ll alert you if one comes up.

  4. Hi, I was just wondering if it is at all possible to get the words of a poem on your site it is called ‘Sing a Song of Honey’ by Barbara Euphan Todd .I have a big school reunion after 26 years on the 12 March, and have been searching everywhere for this poem and can’t find it.We studied it in school, I would be very greatful for a reply.
    Thank you, Teresa.

  5. A friend of a friend has offered me all four of the rhyme and reason discs for £100 for the lot- is this a good price or are they ripping me off. They just are the discs in white sleeves?? THANKS!! Annie

  6. why oh why is alfred noyes poem dobbin not available to read, copyright ?. it makes me mad after over 5 hours on the web , and still no result, just other people with the same question , patience in this case not, i honestley believe that dobbin was by another poet (author) and no one will admit it.

  7. We had the Rhyme and Rhythm series of records for my children and I would love to have them on cd for my grandchildren. I still recite some of those poems. What I like about them is that they are so varied. Is it possible for someone to transfer them to cd and then sell the cd?

  8. Will you be fixing broken and deleted links? Stumbled upon this and was very excited….then dashed when none of the links worked!

    Thanks for the effort!

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