Old Sister Phoebe


The original play-party game 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. (source)


1. Old sister Phoebe, how merry were we,
The night we sat under the juniper tree,
The juniper tree, Hi-o, hi-o,
The juniper tree, Hi-o.

2. Put this hat on your head to keep your head warm
And one or two kisses will do you no harm,
Will do you no harm, I know, I know,
Will do you no hearm, I know.

3. Go choose you a partner, go choose you a one,
Go choose you the fairest that ever you can,
Now rise you up, sister, and go and go,
Now rise you up, sister and go.

Substitute “Sister Phoebe” with the names of students, such as “Sister Jenny” or “Brother Bobby” such as…
“Oh Sister Jenny, how happy was she
The night she sat under the juniper tree…

Circle game

Put a student in the middle of the circle playing an instrument on the beat while the rest of the students walk around holding hands in a circle. On the last word, whoever the middle student is facing takes a turn in the middle.

Recorder notes: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C’, D’

See also

Extras for Plus Members

  • Song with chords in 2 keys (PDF)
  • MIDI file
  • Listen

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on tumblr

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top