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Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, lullabies, Lebanon Valley, nursery rhymes, chants, fortune telling, school children


A handwritten document by an unknown author, dating from circa 1950. Within, the author details various Pennsylvania German sayings, chants, and rhymes.

Corresponds to:

Packet 200-4 to 200-8


Hilee Hilo

Hile Hilo Hile Hilo

By uns gates immer ve langer ve schlimmer

Hile Hilo Hile Hilo

By uns gates immer yo so.

Ich hab sone lever alder schware

Dar beddled he un beddled hare

Won grickt ar feel don drawkt ar schware (heavy)

Won grickt ar nix so cumdt ar lare.

Hile Hilo etc

My schware dar hut an boweri

Mit lawma gile un dara sy

Ar hut an gonser schtol ful kee

De schtana im dreck bis on de gnee

Hile Hilo etc (There is more)

A lullaby evidently translated from the High German Virgin's Slumber Song

Tune very similar.

De Mary sitst im Rosa lunt

Un shuckeld era kindt

In da greena bledder

Weddled an warmer soomer wint

Schlof leves kindly

Schlof schlof schlof

Here is another snatch of a lullaby I am trying to assemble. Do you have it?

By-o-le By-o-le By-o

Was rabbled im schtro?

Es ketzly is doat uns micely is fro

By-o-le By-o-le By-o (There is more about getting another cat)

As you no doubt know many, or at least some, of the early settlers of the Leb. Valley migrated here from the [Schoharie] valley in NY. having first settled among the Holland Dutch. I believe that some of our Pa. Dutch songs are corruptions of Holland Dutch rather than German. Here is one I heard sung in an English translation from the Dutch the words being almost the very same. I believe the Eng. nursery rhyme and tune of “Sleep Baby Sleep” are also from the original Dutch. The spirit of it is not English. And yet one can never tell - sheep, stars, Bubbies, mommies and dawdies are universal. Anyway, what does it matter.

Schlof, Bubby, Schlof

Dar dawdie heed de schof

De mommie shuckled dar darna bawm

Un uf dich faldt an schaner drawm

Schlof, Bubby, Schlof

De schtarna sin de schof

De glana schtarna sin shiplin sees

Wisa shiplin mit schwartza fees

Schlof, Bubby, Schlof

Here is a little jingle to chant as you jangle babies on your foot. (Shame on you!)

Rida Rida Gilie

Alla schtundt a milie

Schpringt des gilie iver dar grawva

Falsht du ny so musht es hava

Bump - dart lysht du drin

(At this point you slam baby on floor.)

As you count the fingers-

Dar dowma

Dar shiddled de blowma

Dar layst se uf

Dar drawkt se ny

De glae grut frest se ol.


Drus drus drilly

Dar bower hut en filly

De filly will not lawfa

Dar bower will se farkawfa

So schpringt de filly weck

Don hut dar bower dreck dreck dreck

Booklich Menly

Won ich ous mime bedly gae

Un fong mich aw tsu dumla

Cumdt des booklich menly rouse

Un fungdt mar aw tsu grumla

Booklich menly du mawkst grumla

Lus michyisht mich wannich dumla

No mawkst du grumla

Won ich on my effly gae

Far my firely schtarra

Cumdt des booklich menly noch

Un fungdt mar aw tsu gnarra

Booklich menly du mawkst gnarra

Lus mich yusht my firely schtarra

No mawkst du gnarra

Won ich un my ___ gae (Something like a shrine or family altar. Can't find the word. Perhaps you know)

My gabately sawga

Cumdt des booklich menly noch

Un fungdt mar aw tsu glawka

Booklich menly etc

Won ich in my kichlie gae

Far my essa mocha

Cumdt des booklich menly nous

Un fungdt mar aw tsu locha

Won ich on my dishly gae

Far my potwarsht essa

Cumdt des booklich menly noch

Un fungdt mar aw tsu fressa

Won ich in my kemmerly gae

Far my schlophute sucha

Cumdt des booklich menly noch

Un fungdt mar aw tsu flucha

Won ich in my schtelly gae

Far my keely melka

Cumdt des booklich menly noch

Un fungdt mar aw tsu shelda

Won ich in my heisley gae

Far my heisley butza

Cumdt des booklich menly noch

Un fungdt mar aw tsu brutza (This one is endless. I have lots more if you want it. It develops that this pestiferous little man objects to everything but eating. The tune is very much like Tara rara bum-de-a

To chant as you touch the buttons on clothes of wearer

Adelmon, bedelmon, bower, soldawt, kanich, kiser, warrick-wiser.

The one which falls upon the last button indicates your profession if a boy or the profession of your future husband if a girl. The first + last sound inane. Perhaps the last means a man who shows you how to work. I mean as pertains to the custom of apprenticeship which was still prevalent when my father was a boy. He, himself, was for three years apprentice to a carpenter. (Work without pay.) The first, I imagine, I have quite wrong.

To tell fortune - a sanitary custom the children still practice at “Pleasant Retreat” school, behind the schoolhouse.

Ich sawk dar war

Die cup is full hoar

Ich sawk dar was

Die hond is nos

At this point you spit in the palm you have been reading.

Many of these old saying sound inane because they have kept passing around long after the original import is lost. Such a one is this:

Mommie Dawdie Kasabrod

Schlog dar Henner Waver doat

Schlaf en in de hecka

Dart mawk ar fulshter farrecka

The connection is this: a man on his way to pay a sum of interest due to neighbor on Apr. 1st was found dead in some bushes. The decision finally had it that stray robbers committed the crime. But neighbors agreed on placing the guilt on an avaricious couple near his home and felt that he was killed, then dragged to the bushes. Not daring to accuse these people yet not satisfied to let matters rest as settled by law, they would, in the presence of these two, in public places, repeat these lines. The names, of course, being fictitious yet suggesting the names of parties supposedly involved.


English and Pennsylvania German

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Pennsylvania German Rhymes, Chants, and Lullabies



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