Exploring the Modern and Original Versions of ‘One for Sorrow’ Nursery Rhymes


By Cynthia-G-Toups

Nursery rhymes have always held a special place in our hearts, captivating both children and adults with their whimsical melodies and memorable lyrics. One such nursery rhyme that has stood the test of time is “One for Sorrow.” Over the years, this rhyme has evolved, and different versions have emerged, each with its own unique interpretation.

In this article, we delve into the modern and original versions of “One for Sorrow,” unraveling the hidden meanings behind its lines and exploring the superstitions associated with it. Join us on this journey as we uncover the secrets behind the sorrow, joy, and enchantment found within this beloved nursery rhyme.

Modern version

One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a girl,
Four for a boy,
Five for silver,
Six for gold,
Seven for a secret,
Never to be told,
Eight for a wish,
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird
You must not miss.

One for Sorrow Original lyrics

One for sorrow,
Two for mirth,
Three for a wedding,
And four for death

The Modern Version of “One for Sorrow”

In the modern rendition of “One for Sorrow,” the lyrics have expanded beyond the original four lines. Today, the rhyme has grown to encompass various verses, each contributing to the evolving narrative. This version depicts a sequence of events, each associated with a specific number of magpies. Let’s explore how this modern take on “One for Sorrow” has captivated the imaginations of children and adults alike.

The Joy of Two Magpies

According to the modern version, the appearance of two magpies signifies joy and happiness. This interpretation brings a sense of optimism and hopefulness to the rhyme, allowing listeners to embrace the notion that even in times of sorrow, joy is never too far away. Discover the significance behind the second magpie and the delightful emotions it represents.

Three Magpies and the Girl

In this version, three magpies are associated with the presence of a girl. But what does this symbolize? We delve into the potential meanings behind the inclusion of a girl and the implications it has on the rhyme’s narrative. Uncover the interpretations that surround the appearance of three magpies and their connection to the feminine energy within the rhyme.

Four Magpies and the Boy

Continuing the progression, four magpies introduce the presence of a boy. This element adds a balance to the narrative and invites speculation about the symbolism behind the boy’s inclusion. Delve into the theories surrounding the significance of four magpies and their connection to the concept of masculinity within the rhyme.

The Mystery of Five Magpies

With five magpies, the rhyme takes a mysterious turn. It introduces the notion of silver, sparking curiosity and prompting questions about the hidden meanings behind this precious metal. Explore the enigmatic nature of five magpies and the symbolism associated with silver, uncovering the intrigue that lies within this segment of the rhyme.

Six Magpies and the Allure of Gold

The appearance of six magpies introduces the element of gold, a symbol of wealth and prosperity. This addition to the rhyme brings an air of enchantment and intrigue, leaving us to ponder the relationship between the magpies, gold, and the implications it holds within the overall narrative. Discover the allure and magic that six magpies and the mention of gold bring to “One for Sorrow.”

Seven Magpies and the Unspoken Secret

As the number of magpies increases, so does the mystery surrounding them. In the modern version, seven magpies represent a secret that must never be told. This notion adds an element of suspense and curiosity, leaving us to wonder about the nature of this hidden secret. Join us as we explore the intrigue and speculation surrounding the enigmatic presence of seven magpies.

Eight Magpies and the Wish

The appearance of eight magpies introduces the concept of wishes. In this segment of the rhyme, the magpies become a conduit for desires, allowing us to reflect on the power of dreams and aspirations. Uncover the significance of eight magpies and the wishful element they bring to “One for Sorrow.”

Nine Magpies and the Kiss

In the modern version, nine magpies are associated with a kiss. This addition introduces an element of romance and affection, showcasing the tender side of the rhyme. Explore the interpretations and emotions connected to the appearance of nine magpies and the sweet gesture of a kiss.

Ten Magpies and the Unmissable Bird

The final verse of the modern rendition features ten magpies, emphasizing the importance of a bird that should not be missed. Unravel the significance of the tenth magpie and the symbolic representation it holds, shedding light on the deeper meaning behind this captivating nursery rhyme.


Q: What is the origin of the “One for Sorrow” nursery rhyme?
A: The exact origins of “One for Sorrow” is unclear, but the rhyme has been passed down through generations, captivating both children and adults with its timeless appeal.

Q: What do magpies symbolize in the nursery rhyme?
A: Magpies are often associated with superstitions and symbolize various elements such as joy, sorrow, secrets, wishes, and even the presence of a boy or a girl.

Q: Are there any superstitions associated with magpies?
A: Yes, magpies have long been associated with superstitions, particularly in European folklore. Some believe that seeing a lone magpie is a bad omen, while others view them as bearers of good fortune and luck.


As we conclude our exploration of the modern and original versions of the “One for Sorrow” nursery rhyme, we are reminded of the timeless magic and intrigue these rhymes hold. From the evolution of the lyrics to the symbolism associated with magpies, this rhyme continues to captivate and inspire. Whether we embrace the modern version’s expanded narrative or cherish the simplicity of the original lyrics, “One for Sorrow” remains a treasured piece of our cultural heritage, inviting us to unravel its mysteries and find joy within its enchanting verses.


Hello Cynthia G. Toups! It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I'm the creator behind lyricstothesong.com, where we specialize in delving into the depths of song lyrics, uncovering their meanings, and celebrating the whimsy of nursery rhymes

Leave a Comment