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Miss Mary Mack Lyrics
Miss Mary Mack, Mack,
Mack All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back
She asked her mother, mother, mother
For fifty cents, cents, cents
To see the elephants, elephants, elephants
Jump over the fence, fence, fence
They jumped so high, high, high
They reached the sky, sky, sky
And didn’t come back, back, back
Till the fourth of July, ly, ly
Miss Mary Mack
If nothing else, I know firsthand the power of a catchy, rhythmic song to capture my kids attention – and Miss Mary Mack has been a tried-and-true favorite in our household for years! With its lively beat, engaging repetition, and imaginative lyrics, this traditional playground rhyme has been entertaining children for generations. Let’s take a closer look at the origins and meaning behind the song.
Origins and Meaning
While the exact origins of “Miss Mary Mack” are unclear, researchers believe it emerged in the 18th or 19th century among schoolchildren in Scotland or England. The song is thought to be tied to the playground game of the same name, where children would clap their hands in sequence while chanting the verses.
The lyrics tell the simple story of a girl named Mary Mack, who wears all black with shiny silver buttons and asks her mother for money to see the circus elephants jump. The elephants then jump over the fence and so high they touch the sky, finally returning on the 4th of July.
Beyond the literal meaning, some interpret the lyrics as a fantasy of freedom and childhood imagination. Miss Mary imagines the spectacular sight of elephants leaping into the sky, perhaps as an escape from her all-black dress. The elephant’s triumphant return on Independence Day has suggested to some a connection to liberation and triumph.
- “Miss Mary Mack” is thought to be one of the most popular hand-clapping songs, passed between generations often without formal record.
- Though the song remains steady, the hand motions change over time and place. Some common moves are crisscross clapping or patting thighs and chest.
- Similar rhymes and motifs like repeated syllables and incremental build-up appear across many cultures’ traditional children’s songs.
While short and simple on the surface, “Miss Mary Mack” contains multitudes – from its long history, to interpretations of meaning, to the ways kids continue to make it their own through unique hand motions. As a parent, I love seeing the joy my kids get not just from the song itself, but the rituals and creativity that surround it on the playground. Passing songs like this down through generations connects us to the past and all the children who once sang and played just as boisterously.
What are your favorite memories of singing or chanting “Miss Mary Mack” as a kid? I’d love to hear them, as well as any hand clapping routines you’ve seen for the song. Let’s keep these timeless rhymes going strong for many new generations of children!
As I discussed in my previous post on popular kids’ songs, music is an integral part of childhood. For the full list of songs, visit https://thecornydad.com/50-fun-and-educational-kiddie-songs-with-lyrics