A black sheep peeking over the top of a wooden fence.

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

As I contemplated which sheep lesson to write about, the familiar tune “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep†kept replaying in my head. I never realized how much it sounds like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.†The old English nursery rhyme dating back to the 1740s is an easy single stanza tune. I bet you know it.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full.

One for my master,
One for my dame,
One for the little boy
Who lives in the lane.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full.

As you might imagine, our culture has turned this innocent tune into a racial controversy and debate for political correctness. Discussion on reforming the nursery rhyme (along with others) came into question in the 1980s resulting in no action. In 1999, a formal complaint was submitted to the Birmingham City Council in England, but again, no action was taken. Nevertheless, several private nurseries saw fit to alter the lyrics of the song. A similar controversy arose in Australia in 2014.

The rhyme has been used in literature and popular culture. Rudyard Kipling used it as the title of one of his short stories. The U.S. military has used the reference to black sheep to name a squadron. A television series was syndicated in the 1970s called Black Sheep Squadron.

Who knew that “Baa, Baa Black Sheep†holds the honor of being the first of two songs to be digitally saved and played on a computer? Wow! By now, you have formed a perspective of this nursery rhyme based on what I have said. But let me continue.

The rhyme has been suggested to refer to the people’s resentment in medieval times of the heavy taxation on wool. Slave trade in the southern states is another negative suggestion. On the flip side, the wool of the black sheep was a prized possession. Dark clothing could be made directly from it, avoiding the dyeing process.

When you think about it, a black sheep doesn’t have to carry a negative connotation. On the contrary, a black sheep within the company of many white sheep stands out among the flock. Does it not? The color variation immediately draws the eye. The black sheep within a family (and we all have them, don’t we?) views life differently. They may have quirky, non-conforming ideas, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable. Heck, they may be even more valuable.

We can look at something with a positive perspective or a negative one. Consider the twelve men Moses sent out as spies into the land of Canaan. All twelve inspected the same territory, yet ten returned with a negative report. Only two – Joshua and Caleb – had a positive report. And we know who proved to be correct.

There can be no denying that a positive perspective points us toward a positive attitude, resulting in a more positive and healthy outcome. Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer says, “It’s especially important to maintain a positive attitude because God is positive. And when we are positive, it releases Him to work in our lives.†I agree.

God is good all the time, although His ways are mysterious. Bad things happen but that doesn’t make God any less good. “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good†(Matthew 19:17). Maintaining a godly perspective is one of the most powerful ways to acknowledge that God is greater than our circumstances. Think about that the next time your perspective begins to lean in a negative direction. Viewing the glass half-full is a much better perspective than seeing the glass half-empty.

Here’s a great poem by an unknown author entitled “Handsâ€.

A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.
A basketball in Michael Jordan’s hands is worth about $33 million.

A slingshot in my hands is a kid’s toy.
A slingshot in David’s hand is a mighty weapon.

A rod in my hands will keep away an angry dog.
A rod in Moses’ hand will part the mighty sea.

Two fish and five loaves of bread in my hands are a couple of fish sandwiches.
Two fish and five loaves of bread in Jesus’ hands will feed thousands.

Nails in my hands might produce a birdhouse.
Nails in Jesus’ hands will produce salvation for the entire world.

Karen Allen


  1. Sharon Atwood on June 9, 2023 at 10:09 am

    Interesting facts about black sheep and encouragement to live by.

    • Karen Allen on June 9, 2023 at 10:26 pm

      I’m a big fan of the underdog!

  2. Elaine Mizzell on June 9, 2023 at 10:15 am

    That’s a great perspective! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Karen Allen on June 9, 2023 at 10:28 pm

      I appreciate the support. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Joy Kauper on June 9, 2023 at 11:31 am

    Thanks. That was good.

    • Karen Allen on June 9, 2023 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Joy, thank you for reading and commenting. I love black sheep!

  4. J.D. Wininger on June 9, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Amen Ms. Karen. I don’t understand why today’s culture feels they must take everything to the extreme left or right. Satan does not want “middle ground” because that’s where reasonable folks with a godly values system and strong Bible-based morals can reach agreement and join hands to move forward. Growing up in the south, going to school during the initial integration of blacks into schools, etc. was not a fun time, but IT HAPPENED. And when it happened there were a mix of good and bad in both “races”. Why that word is used to divide us in another example of Satan’s subversion. We are “One Race”, the “Human Race.” When I was fighting for our country, I never stopped to consider what color the man was beside me. It did not matter. Are there differences between us, yes. Do we allow them to define us? NO NO NO! We must not measure mankind by the color of their skin, but the content of their character (adapted from a quote by Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King).

    • Karen Allen on June 9, 2023 at 10:41 pm

      Ah yes, culture has twisted the innocent into ugly things at times! I love how you pointed out that the middle ground can be a place of reason. I never thought of it that way but very true. Satan’s ploys are slow and subtle at times. I totally agree with you on those that fight for our country. I could care less about their color; I am interested in their character and allegiance. Thanks for taking time out of your busy, busy schedule to read my blog and comment. You are a faithful follower for whom I greatly appreciate.

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Ewe R Blessed Ministries / Karen O. Allen

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