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The Grand Old Duke of York Song Lyrics Printable

The Grand Old Duke of York

Languages: English, French
Ressource Type: song, nursery rhyme
Theme: English traditionnal song
Age-range: infant-preschool, 3 – 7 years


Download the words of the song:
The Grand Old Duke of York

The Grand Old Duke of York” (also sung as “The Noble Duke of York) is an English children’s nursery rhyme, often performed as an action song. Like many popular nursery rhymes the origins of the song have been much debated and remain unclear.

The rhyme clearly refers to an historical person and debates have tended to circulate around identifying which Duke is being referred to in the lyrics. Candidates for the duke in question include: Richard, Duke of York (1411-1460), who was defeated at the Battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460, James II (1633-1701). But the most common attribution is to Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827).


English Lyrics:

The Grand Old Duke of York

Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.

When they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.

French translation:

Le grand vieux duc d’York

Oh, le grand vieux duc d’York,
Il avait dix mille hommes ;
En haut de la colline il les fit marcher,
Et les a fait redescendre.

Une fois tout en haut, tout en haut,
Et une fois tout en bas, tout en bas,
Et quand ils étaient à mi-hauteur,
Ils n’étaient ni en haut ni en bas.


Culture and Vocabulary:

  • traditionnal song of the United-Kingdom
  • prepositions of places : up to the top, up, down, halfway up
  • numbers: ten thousand


  • simple past verbs: had, marched, were
  • subject pronouns: he, they
  • conjunction: when


  • rhythmic structure of the nursery rhyme

The Grand Duke of York Board Book

The Grand Duke of York by Maureen Roffey and Bernard Lodge

Teaching suggestions:

  • Express possession: He had…
  • The catchy tune of this rhyme greatly facilitates its teaching. Draw a hill on the blackboard and using stick-figure people and horses, show the soldiers going up the hill and going down the other side. Make the Duke of York the biggest person of the drawing. This song will probably take a while to learn. As with the other songs, it is better to sing it two or three times, go on to other activities and return to the song a little later.


Videos of the song “The Grand Old Duke of York” in English:

Video of the song “The Grand Old Duke of York” in French:

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