If All the World Were Paper


Version 1

If all the world were paper,
And all the sea were ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we have to drink?

Source: Songs the Children Love to Sing (1916)

Version 2

If all the world were apple pie,
And all the sea were Ink;
If all the trees were bread and cheese,
How should we doe for drink.

Source: GG’s Garland (1810)


Version 3

If all the world were apple pie,
And all the sea were ink,
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we have to drink?
It’s enough to make an old man,
Scratch his head and think

Source: Harry’s Ladder to Learning (c. 1850)



Historical Background

“If All the World were Paper” first came to prominence during the reign of Charles I. The rhyme is a parody of the elaborated language used in ancient Jewish and Medieval Adoration. A Chaldee ode sung in synagogues during the first day of Pentecost includes the lyrics:

“Could we with ink the ocean fill...” and,
“And were the skies of parchment made…”

Similar imagery appears in many folk songs from throughout Europe, as well as the Koran.

Download the sheet music of this rhyme
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