Learn a Rhyme

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Old King Cole

Old King Cole was a merry old soul,
And a merry old soul was he,
He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl
And he called for his fiddlers three.
Every fiddler he had a fiddle,
And a very fine fiddle had he.
Oh there's none so rare, as can compare
With King Cole and his fiddlers three. 

This rhyme was first published in 1708

There were a number of English ancient regional kings that were named Coel including Coel Godhebog nicknamed 'The Magnificent', Coel Hen nicknamed 'The Old' and St. Ceneu ap Coel, the son of Coel Hen. Due to the nickname 'The Old' Coel Hen is thought more likely to be the 'Old King Cole' referred to in the rhyme.

Another view is that the King Cole referred to in the rhyme was Thomas Colebrook a medieval cloth merchant.

The rhyme suggests that Old King Cole was a music lover and often enjoyed playing his pipe (recorder, flute or bagpipes) with a group of violinists.