John Brown’s Baby


The older version of this song was called “John Brown’s Body,” and was sung by soldiers in the Massachusetts regiment of the Union army to tease a fellow soldier named John Brown. The song caught on, and people began singing it about John Brown, the anti-slavery figure. (source) The tune was so popular that different lyrics were added, until someone asked Julia Ward Howe to write better lyrics to the tune. She wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. (source)


John Brown’s baby had a cold upon his chest, (repeat three times)
And they rubbed it with camphorated oil.


Repeat the same lyrics, but remove a word each time you sing another verse, and replace it with its corresponding motion.

John Brown = salute (I skip this one with younger students)
baby = motion of rocking baby in arms
cold = pretend to cough
chest = pat chest
rubbed = rub chest
camphorated oil = hold nose and make sour face

See also


Extras for Plus Members

  • Song with chords in 2 keys, Lesson ideas
  • MIDI file
  • Listen

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