Three Men in a Tub


Version 1

Rub-a-dub-dub!
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,
And all of them gone to the fair!

(Mother Goose Club Version)

Version 2

Rub-a-dub-dub,
Three men in a tub;
And who do you think they be?

The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick-maker;
Turn 'em out, knaves all three!

Source: Halliwell, The Nursery Rhymes of England (1846)


Version 3

Rub-a-dub-dub,
Three men in a tub,
And how do you think they got there?
The butcher, The baker,
The candlestick-maker,
They all jumped out of a rotten potato,
‘Twas enough to make a man stare.

Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (1997)



Historical Background

In 1798, the first recorded version of “Rub a Dub Dub” was published in “Christmas Box,” with the lyrics:

Hey! rub-a-dub, ho! rub-a-dub, three maids in a tub,
And who do you think were there?
The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,
And all of them gone to the fair.

Another early version of the rhyme, recorded in 1830, took a significant departure from the earlier version:

Rub a dub dub,
Three men in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three.

This form is the most commonly recognized version today.

Download the sheet music of this rhyme
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