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Catholic Activity: Green Grow the Rushes, Oh or the Dilly Song

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This is an old counting song. I learned this from my father. The origin is a bit hazy. It is said to this is said to be of Cornish origin and was once used to teach the Creed. Since it seems to be a catechism song, the interpretation is provided after the verses.

This is a great song to sing around the campfire or on car trips. Our family always sped up as we got to the higher number countdowns, but always slow down at Three the Rivals, and at One. (--JGM)

DIRECTIONS

1. I'll sing you one, O
Green grow the rushes, O
What is your one, O?
One is one, and all alone,
And ever more shall be so.

2. I'll sing you two, O
Green grow the rushes, O
What is your two, O?
Two, two lily-white boys
Clothed all in green, O
One is one, and all alone,
And ever more shall be so.

3. I'll sing you three, O
Green grow the rushes, O
What is your three, O?
Three, three the rivals!
Two, two lily-white boys
Clothed all in green, O
One is one, and all alone,
And ever more shall be so.

4. I'll sing you four, O
Green grow the rushes, O
What is your four, O?
Four for the gospel-makers,
Three, three the rivals!
Two, two lily-white boys
Clothed all in green, O
One is one, and all alone,
And ever more shall be so.

(Continuing in a like manner, adding a number each time)
Three for the rivals
Four for the Gospel makers
Five for the symbol at your door
Six for the six proud walkers (night walkers)
Seven for the seven stars in the sky
Eight for the eight bold rangers (April raiders or rainers)
Nine for the nine bright shiners
Ten for the ten commandments
Eleven for the eleven who went to heaven
Twelve for the twelve apostles

The "Oxford Book of English Traditional Verse" gives an explanation to the cryptic verses. There are several other interpretations, but this gives some clues.

One = God
Two = Christ and John the Baptist
Three = the Magi
Four = the Evangelists
Five = "possibly the Hebraic pentagon... but possibly the five wounds of Christ."
Six = those who carried the waterpots at the feast of Cana
Seven = the Great Bear or the planets
Eight = the Archangels
Nine = either the orders of Angels or the joys of Mary
Ten = self-explanatory
Eleven = 11 apostles without Judas
Twelve = 12 Apostles

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