Old Sister Phoebe: About the Song

"Old Sister Phoebe" is a play-party song and game that was popular on the American frontier in the first half of the 19th century. In the game, boys and girls join hands and circle around one girl in the center of the ring who holds in her hands a hat or coonskin cap. In keeping with the lyrics to the song, she places the cap on a boy's head and kisses him. She then takes the boy's place in the circle and he moves to the center. The game and song sometimes went on for hours.

Lyrics

Old Sister Phoebe, how happy were we
The day we sat under the juniper tree
The juniper tree, hi ho, hi ho!
The juniper tree, hi ho!

Place this had on your head, it will keep your head
And take a sweet kiss, it will do you no harm
But a great deal of good, I know, I know
A great deal of good, I know

Old Sister Phoebe, how happy were we
The day we sat under the juniper tree
Now around and around we go, we go
Around and around we go

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