Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon

Nursery Rhyme: Old King Cole

share icon
share icon

Introduction to Old King Cole Rhyme

We've all heard of 'Old King Cole' thanks to the classic children's song, but who was he? Despite the fact that the song of 'Old King Cole' is well-known, the guy is known as Old King Cole, together with his three fiddlers, remains a mystery. Before we get into the meat of the matter, here's a refresher on the song's lyrics.

There is significant conjecture concerning King Cole's identity, but given the centuries between the attestation of the rhyme and the potential identities, it is doubtful that he can be recognized correctly; none of the existing possibilities is firmly supported. Old King Cole was the nursery rhyme of Genesis' third album's song The Musical Box, the lyrics of which are based on a Victorian fairy story penned by Peter Gabriel. The song can be found on the album A-Side of Nursery Cryme, which was published in 1971 and was named after a nursery rhyme.

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.

Old King Cole

                                               Old King Cole

Summary of the Old King Cole

This poem starts in a bright and merry tone, declaring that "King Cole" is a pleasant soul. He is well-known for being a cheerful person. The second phrase attests to the first, confirming that the monarch was undoubtedly a joyful man. Following that, we see him summoning his pipe and blow, as well as musicians. As the bowl depicts the singing bowl, the pipe might be assumed to be a musical instrument. He is also known as "fiddler three." Fiddlers are persons or artists who specialize in performing folk tunes on violins.

The poem continues by stating that each of the three fiddlers had their fiddles, implying that they each had their violins and performed with King Cole. Finally, the poem concludes that no one was greater than the king's three violinists and the king himself when it came to it.

About the Poet

In 1923, Vaughan Williams composed a one-act ballet based on Old King Cole. The nursery rhyme Old King Cole appears in Genesis' third album's song The Musical Box, whose lyrics are based on a Victorian fairy tale written by Peter Gabriel.

"Old King Cole's" remarks date from the early 1800s in England. In 1708, it was first published in William King's "Useful Transactions in Philosophy." King Cole's identity may be traced all the way back to prehistoric times.


The nursery rhyme "Old King Cole" was originally recorded in 1708. Though there has been considerable discussion regarding King Cole's identity, it is doubtful that he can be reliably recognized as any historical character. The Roud Folk Song Index number for this song is 1164. The poem tells of a cheerful king who summoned his pipe, bowl, and musicians, however, the specifics differ between versions.

Want to read offline? download full PDF here
Download full PDF
Is this page helpful?
Courses for kids
English Superstar
Grade LKG - 2
Maths Classes
Grade 1 - 2
Spoken English
Grade 3 - 5

FAQs on Nursery Rhyme: Old King Cole

1. What was the number of fiddlers in Old King Cole's band?

There are three fiddlers in the King’s band.

2. What does the nursery rhyme Old King Cole mean?

A nursery rhyme about a fabled king of England from the past, or an elderly guy who loved drinking, smoking, and listening to music. "Old King Cole was a happy old soul, And a joyful old soul was he," the whole poem goes.