Lavender Blue”, also called “Lavender’s blue”, is an English folk song dating to the 17th
century. A hit version of the song, sung by Burl Ives, was featured in the Walt Disney
movie “So Dear to My Heart.” It was Ives’ first hit song, and reintroduced it to popularity
in the 20th century. Another hit version of the song was recorded by Dinah Shore. In their
1985 album Misplaced Childhood, English progressive rock band Marillion recorded a
song called “Lavender”, which was derived from the folk song.
Like any song of such antiquity, there are many variations on the lyrics. The most
interesting variation, though, is that the original words to the chorus were “Lavender‘s
blue (dilly dilly) Rosemary‘s green”. Modern versions which use “Lavender’s blue (dilly
dilly) Lavender’s green” date back to at least 1849 and are said to be connected with the
festival of Twelfth Night and the choosing of the king and the queen.
This song became very popular during the 1950s rock and roll era, when it was sung by
Solomon Burke. While he did change some of the words a bit, the lyrics are generally the
same. Sammy Turner released it in 1959 and it hit number 14 on the R&B charts and
number 3 on the POP charts.
Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so.
Call up your men, dilly, dilly, set them to work
Some with a rake, dilly, dilly, some with a fork.
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly, some to thresh corn.
While you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.
Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue,
If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you.
Let the birds sing, dilly, dilly, And the lambs play;
We shall be safe, dilly, dilly, Out of harm’s way.
I love to dance, dilly, dilly, I love to sing;
When I am queen, dilly, dilly, You’ll be my king.
Who told me so, dilly, dilly, Who told me so?
I told myself, dilly, dilly, I told me so.