Nursery Rhymes

Hark Hark the Dogs do Bark Rhyme

A Sinister Tale
The "Hark, hark the dogs do bark" rhyme dates back to 13th century England.

The origin of "Hark, hark the dogs do bark", reflected in the words, is seeped in history. Wandering minstrels or troubadours and beggars went from city to town singing their songs (some in rags and some in tags and one in a velvet gown).

Messages of dissent to the common people were often found in secret meanings to the words of their ballads.

In this way the propaganda of the day was safely passed from one community to another.

These secret messages could lead to plots and uprisings against the royalty, clergy and politicians of the day.

Even further back in time, in Saxon England, professional storytellers, called 'scops', would also travel around the country telling stories for their living. During outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague strangers were looked upon with horror! Dogs barking alerted the townspeople to strangers in their area, hence the words "Hark, hark the dogs do bark ..."

Additional Information regarding the
history & origin of this rhyme

Our thanks go to Yasmin Mazur for submitting the following possibilities for 'Hark, Hark the dogs do bark'

It refers to the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-1540) perpetrated by King Henry VIII and his chief minister Thomas Cromwell, when England broke from the Catholic religion. Their objective was to loot the monasteries and seize the monastic lands (which they promptly sold) thus increasing the wealth in the coffers of England. This resulted in monks begging in the streets and reflected in the lyrics of 'Hark, Hark the dogs do bark'

Or - In 1688 William of Orange brought his Dutch followers to England - it is suggested that the person referred do as being 'one in a velvet gown' was William himself and the beggars referred to his Dutch associates.

Hark hark the dogs do bark

Hark hark the dogs do bark
The beggars are coming to town
Some in rags and some in jags*
And one in a velvet gown.

* Jags - A slash or slit in a garment exposing material of a different color
(especially popular during the Tudor period.)

Hark hark the dogs do bark

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