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"Mary Had a Little Lamb" Poem

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" Poem

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: Is Mary of the "Little Lamb" the Blessed Virgin Mary?

A: We are familiar with the popular nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb," but we probably don't remember the poem in its entirety.

Mary had a little lamb,
little lamb, little lamb.
Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
Mary went, Mary went,
and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.

It followed her to school one day
school one day, school one day,
It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules.
It made the children laugh and play,
laugh and play, laugh and play,
it made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,
turned it out, turned it out,
And so the teacher turned it out, but still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
patiently about, patiently about,
And waited patiently about till Mary did appear.

"Why does the lamb love Mary so?"
Love Mary so? Love Mary so?
"Why does the lamb love Mary so," the eager children cry.
"Why, Mary loves the lamb you know."
The lamb, you know, the lamb, you know,
"Why, Mary loves the lamb you know," the teacher did reply.

Sarah Hale, according to some, is the author of this poem. It was first published in 1830. The following incident animated Sarah Hale to write "Mary Had a Little Lamb." A girl by the name of Mary Sawyer had a pet, a little lamb which she deeply loved. She loved it so much, indeed, that one day she took it with her to school, and, naturally, created a considerable commotion. According to others, the teacher, actually the nephew of a minor minister, preparing for college under the guidance of his uncle, a young man by the name of John Roulstone, was so enthralled by the incident that he put it in verses, that is, the first two stanzas or twelve lines. The second half of the poem is attributed, according to this version, to Sarah Hale. The event occurred in Sterling, Massachusetts. A statue representing Mary's little lamb stands in the town center.

The peculiar rhythm and rhyme is typical of Norse culture. Mothers use this nursery rhyme to lull their children into sleep telling them to be quiet at night.

Reading the poem (the first audio recording by Thomas Edison, 1877) or singing it (Paul McCartney and others released various versions of it), and knowing the story behind the popular nursery rhyme, it becomes evident that there exists no connection between Our Lady and the Mary with the little lamb.

All About Mary includes a variety of content, much of which reflects the expertise, interpretations and opinions of the individual authors and not necessarily of the Marian Library or the University of Dayton. Please share feedback or suggestions with


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